As I’m sorting through our newly taken family photos, I have been able to reflect on what family is and what it means to me. I’m seeing the changes, not just in how family members look, have aged or who we’ve added or lost but how my feelings for them have changed and evolved as the years have passed.
I know when I was younger that I took my family members for granted. I just knew they would ‘always’ be there so I was able to pursue my own selfish agenda and acknowledge them only when I wanted or needed to. I know I missed a lot of milestones and disappointed them a great deal because I was doing my own thing and too busy to be a part of their lives. Some of this is normal I suppose, as you mature and become an adult and some of it may be due to the fact that growing up in a small town I always had family around, especially my grandparents who were right next door.
When I moved away and got married though, my feelings changed and I longed to spend time with family. I was living in a strange new place that was very different from home and I was pretty lonely because I didn’t know anyone. My family took on a new importance to me that grew even more after having children. I realized that family wasn’t there just to annoy you or boss you around but to support you and lift you up when you needed it. Every visit home became more special and more important as I started to realize that my family members weren’t always going to be there. I could see my grandparents, who had always been my rocks, had always been strong and busy and bigger than life, slowing down, shrinking, aging. My parents who were always so youthful, (when you’re married at 18 and parents at 19 you are youthful) although still young, seemed a little less so and then it would hit me, they won’t be around forever and you had better make the most of this time together.