Yesterday, on my way home from work I was thinking about my childhood in rural Maryland. There were seven siblings in my mother’s family. No one moved very far away, and so grandmother, brothers and sisters, and cousins got together often. My head is full of wonderful memories. Birthday parties, holidays at each others houses, summertime kickball and whiffle ball games with the cousins, church, picnics, Saturday afternoon drives for ice cream, spending the night at my cousin’s, graduations, marriages, babies being born. I was born in 1968, the first granddaughter, after three grandsons. I, the first granddaughter, was born on the same day (not the same year) as the first grandson. My cousin and I have had fun with that throughout the years. There are ten of us cousins in all. Six girls and 4 boys.
Sometimes I think back on my own childhood in the 70’s and 80’s, before 24-hour cable, the internet, and cell phones. My childhood was making up our own games, playing outside, riding bikes, catching lightning bugs, cake and ice cream at birthday parties, slumber parties, and watching my cousins play ball. (Football in the Fall, and Baseball in the Spring and Summer) We all loved each other. None of us are perfect, but we love family.
As time went on, and we all grew up, we went our separate ways. College out of state, careers, marriages, children…. I sometimes wish my own children could have known what it was like to have the family so close by and to bond together in ways that now seem nearly impossible. Life is much faster, more frantic, and further apart.
I will be celebrating my fiftieth birthday this May, and as an adult, I can now look back and realize the gift our parents and aunts and uncles gave us. The gift of time. The gift of love. The gift of family.