My wife and I woke up to another day crammed full of family time. We don’t get to northern Indiana much, so when we do we come on vacation and we visit family. Plans are made for days and evenings, meals and places to go. The matriarch and patriarch of the clan on my wife’s side seem to assume pride of place. Of course we will eat with them first, and whenever we’re not eating with someone else. Of course, though they are in their late 80’s, early 90’s, they will be showing us all the places they find special. Of course, our concerns that the hectic pace they want to set will wear them out are none of our concern! I think it’s cute!
But it’s also right. We are both struck with the degree to which the accumulation of birthdays in the body increasingly clogs their minds and stiffens their limbs. We will have the rest of the family with us in this life longer than they. The chances that this is the last yearly visit with them are much greater than with the rest, so it is fitting to spend the pride of time with them. They are precious people.
Precious because they are family. Family gives us roots and a past. The roots aren’t always secure and the past is not always as polished clean as we might imagine, but they are roots and a past, nonetheless. The real specter of human loneliness raises its horrific head when one tries to imagine a life without roots and past—even miserably disfigured roots and terribly painful past. They are still the past, and denying them is dis-ease of the soul. Life comes from reconciling, owning, loving and finally transcending all that family hands us on the platter of our collective DNA, no matter what it is, good and bad together.
Family is an exercise in redemption.