Time was when we’d get together and gossip. Sometimes we’d vie for the distinction of who had it tougher. Faults were easily found and fingers pointed. In a family of ten kids that was easy to do, about as easy as hiding behind the sheer numbers.
Certainly older now, tempered by the death of parents as well as six of nine siblings, disguise and diversion are much less satisfying. Now we remember, reminisce and recognize what matters. The impulse to gossip, compete, even complain never completely disappears. But its seen for what it is… navel gazing and a waste of time!
Mom and Dad have come up often during this week with family in Florida. We arrived on the 22nd anniversary of Dad’s death. We share amazement that Mom could now be gone for more than eight years! Strange how adolescent rebellion and adult needs to differentiate ourselves subsides with the passing of years. Neither Mom nor Dad were as objectively wonderful as we now choose to remember them. Perhaps that is the mature wisdom borne of perspective, sobering self-acceptance and irrepressible gratitude.
Mom and Dad weren’t perfect! Truth is the oldest and youngest in the roster of ten had many advantages. Here’s a dramatic example to make the point – false teeth! The three eldest and the two youngest (four of the five are now deceased) “kept their teeth.” The five in the middle all have dentures. Money was scarce during the Depression and WWII, especially for such a large family! Dental care lost out to more pressing needs.
Some may grouse about inequality and bad luck. But what really matters? Where is the wisdom of years? What is the fruit of embracing mortality, accepting the inevitability of our own death? There is no time for gossip. Keeping score becomes meaningless.
As the youngest of ten, I objectively benefited from my position in the roster. By many standards, I admit my good fortune in receiving “more.” Yet the perspective of years teaches that love is not a zero-sum game – loving my husband does not mean I have less love to share with others. In fact, the mysterious alchemy of love would suggest quite the opposite.
As this week of family conversation and reminiscences concludes, one thing endures… our gratitude for what Mom and Dad gave us, our amazement for what they achieved with their lives deepens and expands.
Yes, not each of us received as much. Some of us received more. Yet, they always gave every bit as much as they could to each and all – none of us can give more!