Family ties

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”   ~Earl Nightingale

Just over 21 years ago, I arrived in Vancouver on the doorstep of my Great Uncle and Aunt. My girlfriend and I had managed to transfer our design school credits from Alberta and made the trek in my 1977 Chevy Monza. We only asked for family hospitality for a few weeks, but it is a time I still remember fondly. Great meals, chatting, learning the ways of the West Coast. Even though Alberta is only next door, in many ways it might as well be sitting next door to Texas.

Within a few months, I met the man who would later become my husband. His roots were here. So as our young relationship developed, life got so busy. We moved away, we moved back, twice. My Great Uncle tried to keep track of us, but our schedules were hard to co-ordinate.

But that is no excuse.

You only have one life. A few precious moments to spend with people you enjoy. Relationships can be strengthened with a little effort. But everything withers and dies with neglect.

My Great Uncle didn’t give up. We got the email invitation for Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. The stars aligned. We were the first to arrive and the last to leave. Even though I have not spent a lot of time with this side of my family, being back in the fold felt so comfortable, like no time had passed. All the kids are growing up into interesting people who I am proud to be related to.

It is an interesting experience to be a 40’ish year old with an 80’ish year old on one side and a 20’ish year old on the other, discussing North American politics. There was a time, (seems not so long ago), that I was the young one at the table. But I don’t miss it. I like being in the middle. There is some wisdom, some experience that feels good.

The only thing I still have trouble figuring out is what exact relationship we all have. I looked it up tonight and I think I have it. But I’ll wait some time before trying to explain it to my kids. They barely understand their relationship to my cousins. So explaining their position to my Dad’s cousins will have to wait. Maybe a flowchart.

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