Family Issues

From The Grave

Although I know my title seems morbid, it isn’t meant to be. I couldn’t have been more than 10 when my father told me that we keep the generations before us alive by telling and retelling stories to our own children. He said for the most part, a person’s life is forgotten after two generations.

I was lucky to have three of my four grandparents until my early 30s. My son was 8 when his last great grandparent passed away. My son now has an 11-year-old son. Travis knows my mother, who is 89. He has no idea who my father is or any of my grandparents.

I am finding this sad and unfortunate. While reading an article today in People Magazine about Bindi Irwin, the daughter of Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter star), I mostly focused on what she said gave her the most amount of comfort through the most difficult of times, regarding the loss of her dad.

He wrote her many letters. He shared many stories, and he made videos for her and her brother. While he couldn’t have predicted his untimely death, his instinct to share his life with his children is a gift that will give them a piece of their father that they wouldn’t otherwise have. And, this they can also share with their children and grandchildren.

Pix of a letter

Next time you give a birthday gift or holiday gift to your children and grandchildren, why not also include a story about you. A story about your childhood. Give them some insight into what your dreams were. What you wanted to do with your life. What kind of kid you were.

I would give anything if I could sit down for even an hour and ask my grandmother about her life as a child. Our parents and grandparents are always asking about our lives and us. They listen to what we have to share. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, as adults, could have an opportunity to get to know them, by reading the stories they left us?

For most it is when we are older and less absorbed in our own lives that tend to reflect and realize just how precious time is. Do you agree?

Until it is Gone

 “I miss the good old days.”  Or, “I really miss my dad.  I think of him everyday.  I would give anything to have more time with him”, are said way too often.  This could also apply to any family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker.
Although many make the time to be with their loved ones, are we really doing a good job of appreciating them while they are still in our lives?  I don’t mean to judge or would I even attempt to say how much time is the right amount of time.   I just know when parents and grandparents are gone; it never seems to be enough.
When I was younger and would go to a restaurant with my family, we always felt bad for the couples that had the newspaper up to their eyeballs while eating with each other.  Now, of course, the whole family sits around a dinner table with the expectation that all the electronic devices are also invited to dine.
I remember a time when adults would talk and children would color or play with their food.  I now see toddlers in their high chairs with a propped up computer screen for them to occupy their time.  REALLY?
Who are these people that think this is a good idea?  Meals, whether at home or in public should be about sharing, lively conversation and laughter.  Have we gotten so far out of touch with what is really important? Do our children have to grow up and move on for us to try and make up for all the years we didn’t get to reallyknow them? Do we need to lose people before we really appreciate them? 
Don’t be the person who regrets not appreciating what you have now until it is gone.  But more importantly, don’t be the person who regrets not spending time with the people you care about in your life until theyare gone!

Something to not just think about, but upon!

Sandwich Generation

For those who haven’t heard the term, it means you are young enough to have elderly parents and old enough to have grandchildren.
I alternate between visits to see my mother who is surrounded by people in their 90s at various stages of health (although most of them are declining), and weekends with my 11 year old grandson, who has so much energy it can be exhausting.
 Me?  Right in the middle.  I am not ready for the rocking chair, but I am also not quite up to one-on-one basketball for the half hour he can easily muster up.
When I leave my mother’s place, a couple of thoughts go through my mind.  The first one is sadness.  It is hard to see my once very vital mother sitting in a wheelchair waiting for someone to take her to a meal and then back to a group of people who nap on and off all day long.  My next thought is a bit lighter, when I think there are days when she laughs and enjoys activities and visits.
When I spend time at the park with my grandson I also go through a couple of thoughts.  The first one is, how can we harness this energy?  I can’t keep up.  My next thought is at least I was involved to the degree I could be.  After all, I didn’t just sit on the grass and watch him play.
I guess if I were to really give this ‘sandwich’ generation real thought, it would be to live your life exactly where you are.  Perhaps a bit more tired than you would like to be, but with enough energy to enjoy the activites that you love.

Live In The Moment!  It is, after all, where you reside!


A young wife called into a talk radio show to complain about her messy husband and noisy kids.  She said she was tired of picking up after him and reminding her little ones to be quieter.
As soon as she aired her list of complaints, to which the on-line therapist gave her suggestions on how to deal with her family, another caller was waiting to pipe in.
This woman in her 70s said her husband died many years ago and her children have long been gone, having moved away for careers and to live their lives.
She said she too used to complain about the same kinds of things.  She said her house is now very quiet.  TOO quiet.  And everything is in place, not a shoe or piece of clothing ‘hanging’ around.
With much wisdom and reflection, the older woman said it is the very things we complain about that one day we will miss.
When you walk into your home and hear the kids yelling or arguing, stop and think, one day they will move on.  When you see your partner’s clothes or personal property on the kitchen table or floor, stop and think, what if something were to happen to them.
One of the best advice I was given in my 30s by a favorite employer of mine was, “Roni, don’t sweat the small stuff.”  He then went on and pretty much threw everything other than health and real tragedy into the small stuff category.
Don’t wait until you are older and you are alone to realize how much you will miss the very things that bother you now.


No Good Deed

One of my earliest memories of my dad teaching us a grown-up lesson was, “Never hire family, loan money or play match maker.”  He went on to say that more likely than not, the nephew you wanted to help turns out to be lazy, the money somehow never gets paid back and anyone who has actually fixed up a friend or two on a date has their own horror story.
So, what happens when a friend or relative just wants to be helpful?  Do they ignore their desire to give a helping hand?  Do they turn the other way because they are concerned things could go badly?  When we think about it this way, it does seem unfeeling and cold to do nothing at all.
And yet, over the past many years I have witnessed all of the above.  And, every single one of them turned out badly.  Some worse than others. 
All of the examples I gave started with the best of intentions.  Most of the people involved talked about the situation.  They made realistic plans and time lines.  AND YET, when all was said and done, relationships were strained and friendships tested.
I have no real answers or advice here.  And, I believe that although lessons were learned by all, given a similar set of circumstances today, they would do the same thing.  I think it speaks to the heart and not the head.
Perhaps the lesson is, “Don’t look for the thank you or the payback.” Acknowledge that what you did, you did because you chose to.  AND, no matter the outcome, you did it not for the ‘hero’ factor but because it made you feel good.


Who Let the Dogs In?

Anyone who has a dog can relate.  Anyone who has a Beagle can sympathize.  It is built into the DNA of every Beagle to ALWAYS be on the prowl for anything that appears edible.
My Roxie considers ‘edible’ to mean anything she can sink her teeth into and chew.  There isn’t a burger, candy, candy wrapper, veggie or cracker that is safe around her.  AND, when I have guests over, I let them know.  I tell them, “If you care about your plate of food, keep it above your waist or in the middle of the table.”
For those of you who think this is off-subject to what I usually write about, let me continue.
We all attend functions with members of our family that we know to have certain habits, quirks and let’s say, ‘less than desirable’ traits.  Yet, whenever we see them, we expect they will change or perhaps NOT be so annoying. 
Next time you go to that wedding, BBQ, graduation or Mother’s Day brunch, try to embrace the differences.  Instead of becoming uptight or angry because someone else isn’t doing what you think they should, or perhaps acting the way you would like, understand that like the various different dog breeds people also have their ways.
Try to find the “funny”, and the humor in the situation.  If you do this, perhaps the next time will be more enjoyable for you.

Let me know your thoughts.

Your Message Board

If you were to wear one around your neck, what would you want it to say?  Me?  That I lived an ‘authentic life.’
Yes, that means doing as I do.  Not doing as I say.  BIG difference.  While your toddler is in the back seat, are they watching you cut off and flip off drivers?  Because for 16 years, this is what they will observe.  So, don’t be surprised when you try to teach them to be a courteous driver; they are doing what they observed you do.
And, while on the subject, do you tell your school-aged children to be patient with their friends while you race your shopping cart past the slower shoppers to get in line?
How about the parent who is encouraging her child to get along better with his sister while she doesn’t talk to hers?
I understand that it is VERY difficult to live up to all that we encourage our kids to do.  After all, life is much more complicated than the saying, “Can’t we all just get along?”
So, my advice (and there is always some) is work on becoming more aware of your behavior and actions.  Work on mending relationships when possible.  And, always remember that children, young and old are sponges when it comes to their parents.  They truly are a Mini-Me.


So, if you were walking around the neighborhood with a sandwich message board around your neck, what would you want yours to read? Hopefully, NOT, “Here walks a hypocrite.”


The Choices We Make

This morning I watched Whitney Houston’s mother give an interview.  It has been one year since her daughter died.  Cissy Houston has written a book and she is now marketing it.
I expected that during the interview questions regarding drug use would be asked.  After all, it was the reason Whitney lost her life.  What I didn’t expect was the lack of blame that Mrs. Houston could have thrown at Bobby Brown, and the entertainment world in general.
She did make a point of saying that her daughter’s husband didn’t help her.  Her opinion was that he wasn’t good for her.  However, she was very clear that her daughter ultimately made her own decisions.
We can tell our kids to wear helmets.  We can encourage our kids to get an education.  We can guide our kids to stay away from substances that are harmful to them.  We can lecture, share and talk until we are literally blue in the face.
kids with helmets
But the bottom line is that our children will make their own choices.  We live in a world where temptations are all around.  We live in a world where our choices and decisions will determine the life we live.
I guess all we really can do is be the best example we can.  Teach by our actions as well as our words.  Then love them, keep our fingers crossed and then let our children go out into the world and make their own way.
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