Monday, November 28, 2011

Family and Friends

Robert Frost said: "Home is where when you go they have to take you in."  He was referring to family.  Last month I spent time with my 6 siblings: Tom, John, Susan, Judy, Bill and Jane.  I fall between Susan and Judy.  We were in Kansas City, the city where we grew up.  Though none of us live there now, to me it feels like coming home and my youngest sister, Jane, has a condo that she graciously lets us share.  Thank you Jane.  We use to get together much more often, this family of mine, when our parents were still living. But they have been gone for almost 10 years now. 

None of us live in the same place.  Bill lives on Cape Cod, John lives in Eugene, Oregon and the rest of us in between.  None of us even live in the same state. But when we come together it is like we have never left.  Not really.  Nobody seems to have changed.  We all have the same quirks we use to.  The boys still play golf, the girls still do crafts and chat.  We eat out and play games at night.  All of us were together for less than 48 hours but it was worth the effort of coming together.

This is not to say that I don't see some of my siblings much more often.  We do visit each others and the sisters get together at least once a year.  But it had been a long time for all of us to be together.

The same is true for my children.  None of my 3 girls live in the same place.  My oldest daughter, Kate, lives here in Chicago where I live but the other two are still in Missouri (at the moment.)  Rachel, my youngest, tends to wander a bit.  The girls get together at Thanksgiving with their dad and then spend Christmas here with me in Chicago.  This year will be different as my middle daughter, Judy, has other obligations.  Earlier this year the four of us were together in St. Louis for a wedding.  I wish it were much more often.    But I fear it will become less often as with my family of origin. 

I envy people who's siblings have stayed in the same community, who have large holiday dinners.  These are the gatherings in my memories from when I was a child.  But then I would have no place to go on vacations.  Yes, I could go to Paris, or Arizona, or California, but it is much less expensive when you are going to visit families. 

And so this brings me to the second part.  Friends.  When your family is not around you, you have to fill in with friends.  I have been lucky since coming to Chicago, meeting lots of different people.  I use to be able to count my friends on one hand.  I can't do that anymore.  For Thanksgiving a small group of 7 of us met for a Persian buffet and then a couple of us went to see a movie after.  I have close friends, old friends, new friends and everything in between.  I had many, Happy Thanksgiving wishes from family and friends.  I sent out some as well and got replies.  I got wishes from people that I can't figure out who they are because I lost my phone a couple of months back and my contact list is gone.  Its kind of fun getting a "Happy Thanksgiving" text and wondering who the number belongs to.  It could be a wrong number but all is still good.  My favorite text was a week ago in the middle of the night.  "I love you: it said, but no name came up just a number.  So I text back  "I love you too, who is this?"  It turned out to be Douggie, a young friend, who told me he was with my beautiful daughter, Rachel.

So I am blessed with a large family and an even larger group of friends.  It is what sustains me and makes me happy.  A good friend recently told me that the Buddha said that we are suppose to be happy.  And so I am.

My Siblings