Monday, September 29, 2008

"I complained about having no shoes..."

In honor of my grandmother, Antoinette Perruso, I give you my quote of the day: "I complained about having no shoes, until I saw the man with no feet."

The truth is, I'm not exactly sure my grandmother ever said that but it feels like something she would have said. She was a pragmatic woman who lived a life ahead of her time. In the 1930's and 40's, she worked a supervisor at a factory that manufactured slacks and other clothing. Her sister-in-law, Mary, who literally shared her house and her life, stayed home and helped raise her own children, as well as my grandmother's children (my mother, aunt and late uncle.) To this day, the now well into their senior years cousins are as close as siblings.

Until their large, two-family home burned to the ground, and they each moved into their own separate homes, the two brothers and their wives (including my grandparents)and their children shared a home together. The good old days without question.

One of the great losses we've suffered as our society has evolved is the loss of our family life. I spoke to my sister today, for about 15 minutes, and it was the first time we had spoken in weeks. I think that's sad. I don't think my mother goes more than a day without speaking to her sister - maybe even more than once a day.

When I was growing up, we had dinner every Sunday with my grandparents. A Sunday afternoon dinner that served as the main meal of the day. My aunts and uncles attened each week as well, and it was time to reconnect, relax, and enjoy each other as a new week began. When I hear about families that carry on that tradition, I envy them. There is something quietly beautiful about that kind of commitment to each other and the family you have created.

When I consider things in my life that need changing, I think about the time I don't spend with family and friends. I miss them very much. I tell myself I'm way too busy to make the call, spend the time, try to get together. I mean, aren't we all so busy, busy, busy?

Yes, we are. So what? If we don't have the time now, we never will. instead of relaxing over dinner or coffee or a drink together with the people we love, we'll have accomplished whatever critically important next big thing on our list is. Congratulations. Enjoy it. Call someone who cares. If you can remember their numbers.

I think it's time we all stop feeling so sorry for ourselves and our hectic frantic, manic lives; where we tell ourselves daily that we're simply too busy for friends or family. Or at the very least, it's time for me to stop the pity party and thinking such a ridiculous thing. It's perhaps the dumbest thought I've had in a lifetime of dumb thoughts. Who is too busy to be with people you love?

If not them, who? If not now, when?


3BG said...

I really appreciate my wife's family and their love of gatherings.Every Holiday, we are all together for a big meal and get together. We appreciate each other so much more. I lost that when my parents died, but found it again when I married. We never know what we had until we don't do it anymore, and then when we get it back, we have a greater appreciation for it. - Chris Casey

renee said...

Thanks Chris. I like to believe that this hasn't disappeared entirely from our world. The story of your family and their committment to each other made my day.

Anne said...

You know, my husband's family always seemed so tightly knit to me, unitil I realized that it was all the workings of one woman: their mother. Without her pulling us all to her home for holidays, they never keep in touch. My own family turned out the same way. I'm hoping that my own kids stay close to one another. So far, so good. The oldest and second-in-line spend hours on the phone together while the oldest is away at college. Great post!

renee said...

You're right, Anne. It so often seems the parent - very likely the mother - who continues to be the planner who makes things like families coming together happen with any kind of regularity. I hope I can do the same for my three boys in the years to come.

I love that your kids stay connected on the phone. My boys are close as well - but life and distance and demands tend to get the way sometimes, don't they? I know when I don't speak to my sister for a while, I feel restless and unsettled.

How great would it be to see her every week for a Sunday dinner! Unfortunately, geography doesn't permit it. A mobile society seems to lead to a lonely one as well.