Family Post #2
Sometimes you need to look at the people who were there before you, blazing the trail so you could walk easily. I'm not talking about the figures we read about in history books, Martin Luther King or Shirley Chisholm. I mean the people who paid the mortgage month in and month out, that ones that looked out, the heroes who get up every day and go to work so that small children can experience childhood as it was meant to be. The ones who worked hard so I could dream, the ones who sacrificed so I could have. I'm talking about family.
In the past, the trip home for the holidays was mandatory. Nothing could stop or hinder it, nothing could have impeded it. Then as I got older, things changed. It was okay to miss one. In the past loading up whatever I was driving and heading into the wilds of lower South Carolina were a must. It was in some ways a re-affirmation of my identity. Who I was, where I came from, who my people are.
In 2008 I wrote about my trip to see my family.
When I was younger, going to my aunt's house for Turkey day was a magical trip. They would start cooking on Sunday. Two or three turkeys. Chicken. Ham. Venison. Ribs. Rice and Gravy. Macaroni with Cheese. Stuffing. Green Beans. Butter Beans. Peas. Candied Yams. Buttered Rolls. And this is just what i can remember eating. There might be ten different desserts. Going to their house was a feast, there would be enough food for a hundred, with family and relatives you might not see again for months. Folks and neighbors would float in and out all day. It was time to catch up, to hear all those funny stories ....one day I'll speak on my cousin Ray...and reconnect with the folks who will care for you, no matter what. My brother thinks it's more important than the insanely over commercialized Christmas. I think he's got a point.
Earlier this year, one of my aunts on that side of the family had a stroke, and so we visited them. The usual buffet was set out in the kitchen, okay maybe food for fifty this time, and we all passed in and out of her room so that she could have visitors. She's come a long way, but she's got a ways to go yet. But her sense of humor hasn't been affected one bit. She cracked jokes with every other sentence, keeping us in stitches as we all made the best of what it was.
It's moments like this, when family means something.
Now, almost three years into law school, struggling with the daily grind of work and education, and the minutiae of existence that bogs us all down, I am once again not going home for the holiday. My auto, on the verge of being paid for, is of course having issues. And my brother's car is having issues, but then he's been payment free for a while. And finals are around the corner. And the job is in transition. Life is happening.
People were headed that way I could have gotten a ride, but nobody's coming back for a minute, and I've got study sessions and work...not to mention I'd like my stuff to be there when I got back. My house hasn't moved, the neighborhood is still "in transition". I couldn't have gotten down there and back on a reasonable schedule without way too much rigamarole, getting back too tired to do those things I need to do. My mother agreed, but then she's big on the school thing, and the keeping my stuff in my house thing.
I miss my grandmother, who I really wanted to see this year.
I also renewed the deal I have my grandmother that we're going to dance at my eventual wedding, which to her means she can't "go anywhere" and has to keep active. It's the same deal we've had since I was 15, although now she razzes me about great grand babies now instead of wives. I remember when I was a kid, that house my grandparents lived in seemed so big, and now it seems crowded whenever you have more than four people in the kitchen. And just like when I was kid, even from her wheelchair (sigh), I watched grandma take a few minutes to make sure my granddad's hair was okay.
When I talk about love...65 years like them is what I mean.
Life isn't fair. Just because.
Family is important. Today I'll probably head down to my uncle's for some turkey and see a cousin or two. Then head back to the house and start going through my flash cards, and over my outline...which I need to retype from scratch...and get my mind on what I need to do, to get through this next phase.
Still, it would have been nice to stand outside my grandmother's house and look up at the Milky Way. From her place you can see it.
Barkeep. My people drink brown.