I witnessed my grandfather say goodbye to his brother today. My mother fixed the collar on his funeral suit and fussed that he had a clean hankie in his pocket. Their matching grey eyes glassy with tears. They walked hand in hand to the car, a united front against a shared pain.
There is so much history, good and bad, between my grandfather and mother. Such strong personalities often more clashing than comforting.
Yet today all differences were put aside and the mutual support is strong.
As I waited for them to return I wondered around his home gazing along the photo laden walls. So many characters, relationships and special occasions have pride of place in this old man’s house. The photos reflect changes over the decades with over 175 years represented here.
There is an old round headshot of a formidable great grandfather, the laughing smiles of great-great grandchildren, wives kissing embarrassed husbands, an incredible lineage of wedding dresses, the landscapes of foreign lands, brothers in arms, boats built and even the football teams revered.
I wonder how he feels when he gazes at his life evidenced through these photos. When the house returns to its quiet stillness and he settles back into his life of solitude; how does he feel about his family and friends?
This moment in my grandfather’s life leads to thoughts of self-reflection.
I have a wonderful family, gorgeous friends and a blessed life. My depression has given me a healthy respect for the life I have. If you have been reading my blog and website you know I have a life I love. I am also realistic and know that life will throw cannonballs of crap at me occasionally. I am just a little tougher and faster these days.
Family can easily be taken for granted. We can all be guilty of focusing on grievances and gripes too often. The past few days has served as a strong reminder of how valuable family is to me.
Good bad and ugly these are the ones who will support, cheer and find my hankie when I need one.
There are so many easy ways to show appreciation and love for our families. We can create magical memories and forever strong relationships with a little forethought and care.
And when I am my grandfather’s age I will sit in my big armchair gazing upon my photo's feeling fulfilled proud loved and lucky.
So this leads to my list.
My Most Content Family Life Rules.
1. Love your family. Don’t just feel it but go spend time with them and hug them tight. Organise more family dinners while you at it.
2. Forgive. Eventually time will run out and you will no longer have the opportunity.
3. Don’t wait for special events. A birthday catch up is not enough. Organise dinner, drinks, cuppas, Skype calls, morning teas, walks or lunches. Connect often – we need it.
4. Cherish special moments with photos, albums and journals. Create a place to document the memories and remind yourself how lucky you are to have these extraordinary people in your life.
5. Touch often. Physical contact allows you to connect and feel. A bear hug or even just placing a hand on theirs is enough to show how much you care.
6. Reminisce when you get together. Re-tell the stories that made you laugh so hard you cried. Adventures are meant to be re-told with gusto and maybe a little embellishment. When the more challenging times are recalled then celebrate the learning and the strength shown.
7. Be true to your beliefs and opinions; respect another's right to be different.
8. Listen when your loved ones talk. Don't think of your response or what else you need to be doing. Stop and listen to their words. They are worth your full attention.
9. Give because you can. You know that feeling you get when you lay a surprise gift down and wait for them to open it. This is a feel-good hit for you both and a great opportunity to showcase how much they mean to you.
10. Tell your loved ones why you love them. Be specific and speak from the heart.
We all lament that life goes by too fast and we are soooooo busy. Today make a decision to value one of the most incredible parts of your life - your family.
Big, small, adopted, chosen, born, blood or by marriage, loud or quiet these people belong to you forever.
Today I saw forever in my Grandfathers eyes and it’s not as far away as you think.
Now I am off to have a cup of tea with mum on the veranda.
PS. Leave a comment below and tell me what you are going to do with your family today.
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