Family Traditions

Since my husband and I sold our house about a year ago as we retired, moving into our RV at the lake, we found one downside to be that we no longer have a place where family and friends can gather under one roof to celebrate holidays. My solution for this was to find a place for rent where we could gather for, perhaps, a weekend, with everyone free to bring themselves, kids, friends, pets, whatever, to spend time together, making new family traditions as we go.

With this as my goal, I found a four-bedroom lodge for rent across the lake from our RV site, with smaller cabins also available if we find we have more people than will easily fit into the lodge for a weekend stay. The lodge has five bathrooms and a full kitchen where we can cook and bake up a storm for whatever holiday might be our focus. Each smaller cabin has its own bathroom, coffeemaker, and microwave in addition to a bed with additional loft sleeping for kids. There’s a fire pit outside where we can gather to visit (and drink?) into the wee hours of the morning, weather permitting. There’s a walking trail around a very beautiful and rustic area beside the lake. We can admire sunrises and sunsets together, thankful we can all be together for the holiday. There’s even a pontoon boat for rent for fun lake rides for the kids or maybe a bit of fishing for those that like that kind of thing. Perfect, right?!

The process of moving away from some of the more traditional ways of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas has made it very clear, though, that not everyone is as open to change as I am. Our older son and his wife were really quite openly hostile about the whole thing. They clearly resented our choosing to leave the house behind as we moved into the retirement phase of our lives. In their eyes, I suppose, they felt that we, as patriarch and matriarch of the family will continue to have a responsibility to them and their children for the rest of our lives. Any significant changes should be discussed and agreed to by the entire family before being finalized. Hmmm.

Our younger son; on the other hand, was very open and showed much excitement for us as we cleared the baggage and prepared for a few years of nomad-like travel and play in our early retirement years. Our changes have driven him to consider what he’s doing financially now in order to be free to do whatever he might want to do in his own retirement years.

Either reaction is an honest one, I suppose. Since both sons have left home and married to women of their own choice, I have demanded no personal involvement in their life decisions. Why would they expect to be involved in mine? The way I’ve seen it is that now is my time. Now is the time I can do whatever I see fit. The kids are gone. They’re responsible for taking care of their own families. I continue to love and want to be a part of their lives, but I don’t see that I have any remaining obligation or responsibility toward them and their children. Anything I choose to do for them and those children is a bonus; not a requirement. Period.

Am I being selfish and unreasonable? Do other parents/grandparents see the world differently? I suppose I could be convinced differently at some point and change my mind completely, but for now, I feel absolutely no guilt around my life choices. The boys will adjust.

This holiday season’s outing at the lake lodge was a fabulous success. Both daughters-in-law did the majority of the cooking, the kids had a great time, and I believe everyone is beginning to see that change is sometimes very ok.

Family is love that never fades…..regardless of physical conditional changes which will continue to occur.

I’m keeping an eye out for new traditions we can incorporate into our family celebrations going forward. When my husband and I visited Alaska earlier in the year, the village of Icy Strait offered one of their own Eskimo traditions that I really like: They had a fire burning in the middle of the main street leading through the small village. On the sidelines, there was a basket full of cedar chips. The tradition is for those passing through to pick up a cedar chip, make a wish, and toss the chip into the fire. This done, tradition says the wish will come true. I love this idea almost as much as I loved the smell of the cedar chips burning in the misty air as we passed through. Maybe this will be one of my own family’s new traditions as we have our fire burning in the fire pit….next year I’m bringing a basket of cedar chips.


When It Rains…

“When it rains, it pours,” they say, right? Well, it’s been doing some pouring around here lately. My emotions and thoughts are scattered. Me, the steady, logical, organized one has no idea which day of the week it is or what needs to be done today. If I want something done, it’s up to me to find someone to help me because it seems I’ve lost all personal freedom and ability to function. Me, the one that never cries, is weeping at the drop of a hat for no obvious reason. I sit mindlessly staring into space. I sleep. I stare into space again. One minute I’m telling myself to yank myself up by the bootstraps and pull myself together; the next, I’m blubbering uncontrollably because I can’t clip my own toenails. My husband tells me it’s time to take my medications, but it seems he’s got them organized in some completely illogical way and I’m totally bamboozled. Not having any idea what to take and when, once again, I’m weeping without control. Me, the control freak, has no control over anything. Have mercy. Who the hell have I become?

Over the past month and a half, I’ve been diagnosed with severe kidney infection, urinary tract infection, kidney stones too large to pass in both kidneys, a hip joint needing replacement if I am ever to walk again, in addition to what seems like five million doctor’s appointments I’ve been to the ER about five times, I have every conceivable kind of medication in my body, I’ve been poked by a needle drawing blood at least ten times and have peed into a small cup at least as many times, only to be told nothing has yet been resolved. I have at least one doctor’s appointment each and every day, sometimes more, along with regular physical therapy appointments. It seems my life is no longer mine.

But then, I’ve finally come to realize it was never ‘mine.’ This life has been given to me for only a short period of time, and it’s only up to me to impact how I deal with things on a daily basis, and whether I grow or not as a result of what comes my way.

As I sat in the waiting room on my most recent visit to the ER, inwardly cursing my life of misery, a man began to speak over the PA system. He introduced himself as a guy that worked in the Radiology department and he began to read an excerpt from the Bible. Wow. Seriously? This was certainly not what I expected to hear. I sat, internalizing what was happening for a moment. And the trusty tears began to flow. I got up and walked to the restroom; granted, only with the help of my trusty old lady-ish walker since my recent hip replacement surgery, and let it all go. I wept for what must have been a full thirty minutes with my precious husband worrying at the door, me blubbering that I’m ok, I just need a few minutes.

When I regained control, I re-joined my husband in the waiting room where we waited for about another two hours before my name was finally called. As we walked back to be seen by the doctor, I realized the pain that had originally made me think I was dying and led me to the ER was completely gone. I discussed this with the doctor who made a call to my urologist just to be sure there were no other considerations, but he wrote a prescription for an antibiotic to be safe, another for nausea, and sent me home with instructions to check in with that urologist again in the morning to be sure my existing treatment plan was still appropriate. And it was.

So. I haven’t cried since that night in the ER. I’m feeling much more at peace because I’ve been so clearly reminded that God is in the driver’s seat. My job is to reflect his grace as I follow. I know I have a ways to go to be doing a good job at this, but I’m on my way. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for me. It seems the second fifty years of my life is meant to be a learning experience. Well, bring it on. Through the grace of God, I’m up for it!

May God bless you and yours as abundantly as he has me and mine.

Love and prayers.