Friday, April 13, 2012

For my family

I have a bunch of cousins.  The amount of time it would take me to count them - let alone name them - is rather pathetic.  I think there are around 35 of us.  Plus spouses and children makes for a big group very quickly.  Some of them I have never met more than a handful of times.  One cousin I forgot existed until I met him when he was 9.  Sad, huh? 
It seems rather strange to have such a huge family and not actually know most of them.
Here's what I've learned through Grandma telling me and from Facebook...  =)
Each one of us is very unique.
We are actresses and businessmen and moms and fashion aficionados and writers and Walmart employees and computer geniuses.
We are men in kilts and suits and army fatigues.
We are Catholic and Evangelical and who knows what else.
Many of us are musicians of some sort - even if it's only privately.  I just know we sounded pretty good singing all together.   
We are a family full of people who know their mind and are not afraid to go against the flow to say so.
Getting glimpses of all these things in various relatives over the last week made me wish I could spend enough time with them to actually know them.  I think we would have fun together.
The amazing thing to me is that Grandma loved us all specifically for our individuality.  She loved it that we don't blend in.  That we are opinionated and able to express it.  That we aren't afraid to make hard decisions.  That we are creative.  Even if she disagreed with us - with me.
I don't know how many times she told me I should be more strict with my kids.  And that I should really try sewing 'cuz handmade clothes are so much better than store bought.  And that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the same thing, so it doesn't matter if you eat either.  She told me how to cook and what books I should read and what books I should read to my kids and what kind of music I should let them listen to.  I learned a non-committal nod and an "Oh really?" or "I suppose I could try that."  And sometimes - maybe often? - she was right.  But I never have been one to disagree too loudly with a person about much of anything. 
Listening to her, I felt a little rebuked sometimes.  Grandma was an opinionated, stubborn woman.  And she knew Jesus and had so many more life experiences than I have.  I respected her wisdom and treasured her advice.
Grandma spent much of our time together telling me about my cousins and their parents and kids, bragging about how smart and kind and hard-working they were.  And about how much she loved them... and what she thought they should do differently too.
And I knew she loved me.  Grandma always said exactly what she thought and so was never shy to say how much she loved you or how beautiful she thought you were or how great a job you were doing in some area.  She encouraged me more than she pointed out areas that needed work. 
The last time she recognized me in the hospital, she hugged me tight and whispered, "I love you.  More than you'll ever know."
That was Grandma.

1 comment:

Rebecca Johnson said...

Did you really just use the word "aficionados"? I feel so smart right now . . . I mean the other stuff you wrote was good too, I'm just saying . . . :-)