Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It All Matters. We All Matter.

I have spent the past week putting the final touches on our family book project. That sounds like it should be easy, doesn't it? In two words - it's not.

On one hand, I had absolutely nothing left to say to put on the back of the book and the inside flaps. On the other hand, I had so much left to say I could barely contain it within the limitations I was given.

As I have put together our book full of memories, I am continually amazed at the little things that we remember when we look back upon our lives.

Our family comes from a long line of children who knew their dad worked hard so they really didn't expect to 'know' him in an up close and personal way.

Is there a sense of loss or missing out as they recollect their childhood? No. It was simply the way life was.

They remember the way their dad was, when he did have some time to go for a drive and get 'lost' in the fields (and as an adult, realize he had turned checking the crops into a Sunday drive where he pretended to get lost and 'accidentally' end up at a pre-planned destination).

We are lucky if we still have our parents around when we become adults ourselves. We have no idea how much wisdom and perspective they have stored up inside of them until we are old enough to hear what they have to say. When we lose a parent at a young age, I think we ache to hear what that parent may have told us as the years progressed ...

I was twenty three years old when Dad had a massive heart attack (which his body survived but his brain did not). My brother was eighteen. Even though our sisters were older (thirty two and thirty four), they were only just beginning to know Dad as a person (he worked around the clock and the calendar while they were growing up). We had all had our last conversation with Dad, as we knew him, by Thursday, March 10, 1983.

My brother and I were the fortunate ones - we moved off the farm and into the city in 1970. We had thirteen years of knowing Dad with a "9 to 5" (that is a joke, because Dad worked all the overtime he was able to amass) job with a paid holiday. We have memories of a Dad who (technically) had evenings and weekends off and two weeks paid vacation time.

Perhaps I was the luckiest of all. I grew up on our farm until I was nine years old. I have memories of life on the farm (though none of my farm memories include Dad), I have memories of growing up in the city, where I have many memories of Dad as a child and also as I transitioned into adulthood.

I remember the chats we had before I was married and after that marriage broke up (and then after my husband and I reconciled and got remarried...).

My husband idolized my dad. My dad was everything his dad wasn't. My husband thought Dad was pretty cool, because he could swear like the dickens out in the garage (and no one in the world would have guessed he knew any one of those words when he came back into the kitchen for a cup of coffee afterwards).

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my on again, off again marriage put me in an enviable position, as far as getting to know Dad goes. He had the opportunity to talk with me on so very many different levels because I was an independent car and home owner and new to the world of being an adult, parent and full-time employee.

Dad probably had the foresight to see that there was a pretty fair chance that I would need to know how to be independent and thus, we had many 'teachable' moments. My brother was on the cusp of being the recipient of oh-so-much-knowledge that Dad had to impart on him when we lost our dad, as we knew him.

I knew Dad as much as I could have known him, yet I am the one who has gone out on a quest to search for family memories in order to find a way to know Dad better and 'keep' him as part of my life forever.

In my final 'wrap up' of our family book project, I am saying so very much when I say this:

My motives for assembling this book may have been selfish. Wanting to hear and write Dad's story was wrapped in the gift of hearing about and assembling the story of the rest of our family.
As our family continues to grow and spread out across the land, it is my hope this book will serve to pass along a piece of our history to the generations to follow.
We may be transplanted in life, but there is a true sense of belonging when you settle in and are comfortable in the life where your roots run deep.
Home is where your heart is ... but our roots keep us grounded.
Little did I know at the time, my roots are firmly entrenched in our family farm. I have spent a 'lifetime' finding my way back home again. Compiling Mom and Dad's family books-of-memories has brought me to this place.

There is a little piece of me that believes I am not the only one out there searching for this feeling. Thus I am very pleased to say I am so very close to having this collection of memories ready to distribute among our family.

Within the pages of this book, you will find the impact our grandparents and their seven sons have made within our lives as we know them.

These are the stories of the people who created us, molded us, set an example for us and modeled a life we emulate (in various forms) today.
Whenever you find yourself thinking "What difference does one person make?" remember the stories you read within this book. It all matters. We all matter. Read on...

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