My parents called my brother, Karen and I for a family meeting yesterday because they wanted to discuss something with us. The discussion turned out to be one of the longest talks we’ve ever had as a family. We started at ten in the evening and finished at two in the morning.
Throughout the whole thing, the one thought that kept replaying in my head was, “This… This is growing up and getting old, this is family and life and death all rolled into one conversation.”
Once we were all settled in, my dad began telling us his ideas for dividing properties among us and upgrading life insurances. He enumerated the possible scenarios that could happen and what he wants us to do about them. That’s the first time I had to view the inevitability of my parents’ death seriously. Even with my grandparents who are already in their nineties, I’ve rarely allowed such a thought to cross my mind, let alone with my parents who are still in their early sixties. But there was no way around death last night.
Because after we discussed inheritances and all that, we talked about my grandparents and how we need to bring the entire family together before it’s too late for them. Karen and I brought it up. We’ve been talking about this with each other for some time now and we felt that last night was the perfect time to share it with the rest. Our family makes it a point to come together on my grandparents’ birthdays – my grandfather’s in August and my grandmother’s in January. But we’ve never been complete. There’s always been a family or two missing. And Karen and I feel it’s time to change that. We’ve both been feeling this urgency to have a complete family reunion as soon as possible because our grandmother isn’t getting any stronger. Every night, she and my grandfather both pray for the whole family, naming each of us one by one. Every night. The least we could do is get together and show them they raised a family that knows how to be one.
Then my mother brought up marriage and we laughed. My brother’s beein going on a couple of dates recently but so far none of them are serious, my twin sister is in California with her eyes set on grad school and nothing else, Karen is enjoying her single life and I’m determined to do everything I can do while I can still do them. None of us are in a serious relationship and none of us are actively looking to be in one, so marriage isn’t necessarily something we think about with earnestness. But my mom persisted. “Pray for your future spouse and in laws and children,” she said. We were all nodding our heads to appease her. I think we wanted each other to think we weren’t taking her words seriously, but I think we all did toward the end. We aren’t desperate to get married, but we are desperate to have a good marriage if or when the time comes. When you have grandparents like ours, you realize early on that a good marriage is the best thing that could ever happen to you.
We talked about other things too – my mom’s exaggerated fear that my brother has a drinking problem (he doesn’t), our mutual understanding that my twin sister won’t be leaving California after finishing grad school, our cousin’s impending marriage which we’re all pretty nervous about, my parents’ retirement (soon) and all whole lot of other things that we felt were worth losing sleep over.
My dad concluded the whole thing by saying this, “Whatever happens, do not forget: you children have each other. Look out for each other, love each other and when you all have your own families, know that this family is still here.”
I hadn’t thanked God for my family as much as I did last night.