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The Human Pedigree: Going Home, Moving On

by | Oct 16, 2014 | Musings | 5 comments

FamilyOctGathering2014

Everyone in my family is an accomplished photographer–but we still couldn’t figure out the “timer” to get us all in the frame!

I wrote this post in October 2014. Today, my parents are on the verge of celebrating their 94th birthdays. After more than a year away from them, due to the pandemic, I feel nostalgic for the last time my siblings and I gathered with them. Stay tuned for an update when I finally get to visit with them again!

******

Last week, I drove to the airport 90 minutes away, waited during a 40-minute plane delay, sat on the plane for 2+ hours, boarded a bus for another 3 hour ride and discovered I’d left my laptop behind during the routine airport security check at DFW. I hate travel. But I’d do it all over again, and gladly.

It was my parent’s 60th Anniversary celebration. My two brothers and their wives and I rented a house in Michigan, and we gathered together for a rare but blissful reunion with great food, fine beverages, late night laugh-fests, shared memories, and bitter-sweet farewells.

We grew up in Northern Indiana where my parents still live. My twin brother (and nope, we’re NOT identical, LOL!) and his family live in Ohio where he’s a brilliant speech writer and PR pro, while our younger brother, a professional photographer, lives in far northern Michigan. My SILs are accomplished professional women, too, and my niece and nephews make us all proud. But how did my “little brother” become a grandpa, twice over? Where did the time go?

I live the farthest away in Texas, and traveling that far plus coordinating all of our busy schedules proves the greatest challenge. In fact, my husband wasn’t able to come due to a number of scheduling conflicts with work–and caring for the fur-kids. Sometimes I feel guilty that we moved so far away…

PEDIGREES & GENEALOGY

When together, I’m reminded of what a friend calls our “charmed childhood.” Our home was full of books, art and music–even today Mom and Dad’s house looks like a cross between an art gallery and a library, with musical instruments thrown in. Memories of being read to–story time was important when we were kids–and then arguing which one got to practice on the newer upstairs piano rather than the old-timey one in the basement. And later, when cello, violin, trumpet, voice lessons, track and wrestling, sewing lessons and play practice were added. How did my folks find the time, with their teaching schedules, to give us such wonderful gifts of creativity to explore?

Pets, too, of course–Shelties now gone for years that taught me about dog training and patience, and still prompt tears when stories are fondly shared. My Dad, a long retired elementary music teacher, has become a recognized pastel artist, and one of Mom’s most cherished pictures is the portrait of all the Shelties together: Pickles, Mac, Chad and Skye.

Living on the river, I could sneak away in the canoe to perch in my “reading tree” out of sight for lazy summertime hours. Baby bunnies rescued, turtles and snakes caught and released, river snails the size of your fist–and college fees times three. I am in awe, and a bit weepy thinking back.

We spent time this past weekend looking through a family genealogy, marveling at our ancestors, and how far they’d traveled to meet their future spouses and raise families. And I learned that my Mom, born and raised in Kentucky, had also taken a chance and left her family for a teaching job in Indiana more than 60 years ago–and there she met Dad.

GOOD GENES & LUCK

With cats and dogs, we have the luxury of reviewing pedigrees and choosing ideal pet parent matches–but even then, anything can happen. Humans are more in line with the “lovable mutts” that just happen to get together. What results can be good, bad, or hopefully a happy accident.

I am me because of my parents, and my brothers. How lucky that my ancestors took a chance on coming to a new country, and that my Mom left her family during an era when most young women stayed home and married a neighbor. They still love life, my parents, and it shows in all they do–and I pray they’ll continue to stay healthy for another decade and beyond. Neither looks or acts their age and if I’m sometimes silly or act quirky well–it’s THEIR gene pool! And I’m proud and lucky to be a part of it.

Friends sometimes share with me their sorrow, anger, or indifference that they’ve lost touch or are not close with their families. That makes me sad–and also makes me feel even more lucky to have the parents and brothers that I have.

I see myself in them, in how I was raised, and the decisions I made to arrive at this place in my life. I, too, left home. But I took home with me. It’s who I am. All the things I love most in life–pets, music, art, puns and laughter, theater and bling, books and stories, love and honesty–all comes from them. With a pedigree like that, I am indeed blessed.

Oh, I did get my laptop back. Just lucky, I guess!

When was the last time you had a family reunion? Do tell!

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5 Comments

  1. Susan and the gang from Life with Dogs and Cats

    Every year I host a family reunion for everyone related in some way to my great grandmother. Every year I meet a new relative–and it’s amazing how much fun we have when we all get together. It’s a lot of work to host it, but I am always happy I do.

    Wags and purrs from Life with Dogs and Cats.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      I know it was hard for my Mom living several hours’ drive away from family in Kentucky and for many years, our “Southern Side” family held reunions. I was only able to attend a couple, but it was wonderful. Yes, it’s lots of work but now with just the two of us, we don’t always do the traditions that celebrate those memories. Kind of hard to have a turkey for two…and then eat on it for a week or more, LOL! That’s why each family creates its own traditions, to add on/augment what’s already there.

      Reply
  2. Patricia

    Amy what you have shared about growing up, your life and family is absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever read. I must say I’ve had a complete ugly cry gully washer. When I was born me and my parents lived upstairs and I had a set of grandparents, great grandparents and 2 uncles who lived downstairs. I was close to my dad and great grandparents growing up. My last great grandparent died when I was 16. My mother never wanted to be close. She verbally abused me and abandoned me for 3 years and missed my graduation. She finally started getting close a couple of years before she died and then comes that fateful call at 6:00 A.M. 2 days before Christmas that she had died unexpectedly in her sleep. I was 29 and less than 2 years later my dad dies. I never held anything against my mom – I loved her but I needed her. You had such a wonderful childhood with great parents. Being an only child it was not easy after my parents died. Thank God my best friend and her mother helped me a lot. I was closer to my dad but it hurt me worse to lose my mother. My nearest relative is an aunt and cousins. I keep in contact with my aunt who lives here. We used to get together on the holidays but she along with me can’t do all that cooking anymore and her 2 daughters won’t. I wish people could realize that life is short. I’m on my downhill side of my journey now and I don’t want any regrets at the end. I’m so glad your family has so much love and compassion for one another. Amy, Thank you for being so sharing of your life with us. You truly did have the best childhood anyone could have and you’re right – YOU ARE BLESSED! I’m looking forward to my first family reunion after this life when I get to Heaven. I’m sorry I got so wordy.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Oh Patricia, my heart aches for you! So many families have similar experiences, growing apart or not the best suited for parenthood. (Honestly, that’s why all my “kids” have fur!).

      But what’s glorious is that families are not only genetic–they also are chosen. And you can choose those who celebrate and support who you are like your best friend, your aunt, and others. {{{{hugs}}}}

      Reply
  3. Patricia

    Amy you’re so right about families also being chosen. God has been so good to me over the years. He has never put more on me than I’ve been able to bear but sometimes I’ve wondered. Sometimes I wish I had married and had children but I’ve always felt that for whatever reason, that was not in God’s plan for me. I’m sure he knew what he was doing by not giving me any kids. I’ve always called my cats my kids and they have brought me so much happiness and love and we’re not tooting our own horns but you and I are awesome pet parents!

    Reply

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