The Treasure of Continuing Conversations
Because of all the pandemic’s uncertainties regarding travel, tourism, and related issues in the spring, we wound up postponing a planned long weekend with our two daughters and their husbands to mid-September.
After only taking off Memorial Day and Labor Day this year (with the Fourth of July on a Saturday, that doesn’t really count), by the time we arrived at our country cabin I was weary.
The first full day of our three-day weekend, I took two naps and still went to bed early, halfway through the movie everyone was watching.
Life is so hectic these days that it was delightful to spend time relaxing, enjoying dinner together, and visiting some shops and restaurants.
However, the most memorable time came on our final evening together. After dinner we headed outside and sat in an outdoor gazebo that had a fire pit in the middle.
There, like many families, we chatted about everything and nothing. I shared things about my childhood I had never told our daughters, and learned new things about one son-in-law’s grandfathers.
Afterward, I reflected on how all families have joys and dysfunctional moments that they prefer to leave in the past. Sometimes, the good old days weren’t so good.
In life, we can mistakenly think major celebrations and huge gatherings make life special, when in reality it’s those quiet moments around a fire pit that make the difference.
An apt reminder of that came soon after our getaway. A cousin from Wisconsin called to relate the news that her father (my uncle) had died.
During the same call, she told me the news that our aunt—who lived near Dallas—had died the previous weekend.
When someone lives 800 miles or more away, it’s hard to get to see them very often.
However, because of business trips to Minneapolis and Dallas, I had had the chance to visit each relative several times over the years.
The one other time I saw my uncle in Wisconsin it was for a sadder occasion: the death of my grandmother. He and one of his sons picked me up at the airport; my uncle said there was room for me to sleep in an upstairs bedroom.
Even though that was 37 years ago, I’ve never forgotten the scene that Friday evening when I went to bed.
Several uncles and other family members sat around the kitchen table, chatting about various things. I finally drifted off to sleep, but when I woke up in the morning, there they were around the table, talking.
Although I’m sure they all headed for bed at some point the night before, it was if their conversations had never stopped.
I call it the continuous conversation. The kind that goes on for decades, long after the folks you thought were such good friends have parted ways, whether because of job changes, geographic relocations, or other factors.
I used to be in touch constantly with a host of editors and staff members of various publications as well as fellow freelancers. Over time, many of those contacts have dwindled.
Editors changed jobs and some retired. Some publications ceased or downsized freelancers when the economy tanked.
What I didn’t realize until it happened was how much I would miss many of those ongoing contacts. And once you lose touch, it’s hard to re-establish a connection without a specific reason.
Thus, the joy of family. Those people who will always be around, always love you, and always “have your back.” Treasure those moments while you still have them.