Monday, March 8, 2010

It’s been a good day.  I took the day off to get some Union stuff done — and I got it done.  Yay, me!

Heather and I went for a walk in Gibbons this afternoon.  It’s lovely along the river path — slippery as hell in some spots, but very nice.  Spring really is just around the corner, but not before we get blasted with cold and snow one more time. 

March came in like a lamb, so you just know it’s going to go out like a lion, right? 

That old saying has stuck with me since Grade 3.  I remember doing some little craft in school with cotton balls.  One side of the picture was a lion roaring and blowing icy cold breath all over, and the other side was lambs and sunshine and flowers.  Why that’s stayed with me, I’ll never know, but when ever I think of March I think of that picture that tiny little me made all those years ago. 

Speaking of nostalgia. . .

I kept lots of Landon’s school work — something from every grade.  Every once in a while I pull it out and look through it, just to remind myself that once upon a time he was small and he made things that brightened my day, my life. 

Now he’s all grown up and he (and his lovely wife, Jennifer) have made me three beautiful grandchildren.  Like he once did, they make me smile and give my life purpose.  I’ve started collecting little things they make, tacking them to the fridge and putting them away in notebooks and albums.  Someday, not all that far from now, I’ll be able to look at those things and remember the joy they gave me.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to share them with them, and the things their daddy made, too. 

Having these little connections to the past, to who we were, who we believed ourselves to be, is so very important, I think.  My husband goes on about history, as it pertains to family, and sometimes I get frustrated with him, because he’s always lamenting that it’s dying. 

I don’t think that kind of history ever dies, as long as you hold on to the little things, the things that make you smile, make your heart ache when you think on them.  Whether it’s a tiny little hockey coat, or a Christmas card made of construction paper and coloured crayons, these are the real artifacts of the life we live, the life we share, the life we celebrate as family. 

Family, as if you couldn’t tell,  is it, as far as I’m concerned. 

Once upon a time, in my wilder, misguided days, I didn’t think so.  In fact, I was often heard repeating what a very good friend of mine often said:  Family is over-rated. 

I didn’t understand then, just how stupid that was.  Now, when I look at those words I can’t believe I ever said them.  Because, to me, my family is what defines me.  It places me in the world, gives me a reference point, it roots me, stabilizes me, makes me feel I matter. 

And mattering, that’s what life is really all about, isn’t it?  Some are lucky enough to matter on a grand scale — think the Olympics, or the Oscars, or Pulitzer prize winners.  But most of us, including them, matter on a much smaller, far more intimate scale. 

Knowing that there is a group of people to whom your existence matters is like winning a prize each and every day of your life.  And collecting all the tiny bits of stuff — the pictures, the handprints in plaster or play-dough, the scribbled pictures, the favorite story and the stained sleeper — all these are the very best kind of trophies. 

The history of family never dies as long as you keep it out, keep it visible.  We have a cupboard in our kitchen filled with a bunch of old toys, and bits and pieces of stuff that came from Tim’s parents’ house after they died.  Whenever the kids come to visit they always want to look at those old, faded, chipped and broken toys.  I take them out and let them hold them, tell them a little story to go along with each one. 

Or they go to my collection of miniatures that Landon and Tim have been buying for me since Landon was little.  “I want to hold the bird bath, Grandma.  Why did Daddy give you a bird bath?”  “I like the puppy.  Can I hold the puppy?  What was the puppy’s name Grandma?”  

I never get tired of showing them, or answering their questions.  I just hope they never get tired of asking them. 

History, family, it’s what you choose to make of it.

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