Family means something different to everyone. Growing up I had always heard the saying blood is thicker than water. It was usually said when my brother wanted to hang out with his friends and not have to take his little sister along and I think I also used it to snag the front seat over one of his friends on occasion. Growing up I had a lot of family members around. Both sides of the family were just an hour away. My brother and I were spoiled royally. One grandparent's house always was stocked full of ice cream, not just any ice cream but the best, Blue Bell. At the other grandparent's we knew that our grandpa would take us to Putt Putt where we would spend a few hours playing video games and once in a while play a game of mini golf while our mom and grandmother were off shopping. We also had plenty of aunts and uncles to entertain us with trips to the movies, go kart rides, public pools, not to mention they would come out to visit us on the farm and we could always have lots of fun. We also had two cousins we could play with at all the boring adult functions. Come to think of it, I guess we didn't have a big family, but what family we did have were very active in our lives.
Life took us to Las Vegas and soon brought our family 3 little girls (through adoption). My family unit that I had known for 17 years grew and the phrase blood is thicker than water had no meaning any longer. This was an adjustment for everyone involved. It changed my belief of what a family was. I was able to look at close family friends and consider them family. My idea of family was not restricted. Maybe that happens to us all as we grow up.
When I married Ronnie my family grew even larger. I hadn't even met Ronnie's parents until they flew out to Las Vegas for our wedding, but I knew if they raised Ronnie then they must be good people. It was almost a year later before we were able to go to Missouri to see the rest of Ronnie's family. It was at this time that I first got to meet his grandparents. When I met them I never thought that they would have much influence on my life or my kids lives since they lived so far away, but I was wrong. Every time we went to visit his grandparents we always walked into a bustling kitchen. His grandma always fixed us a big lunch which almost always included fried fish that his grandpa had caught, potatoes, biscuits, hush puppies, some vegetables, and striped delight cake. By the time she was finished cooking dirty dishes were piled a mile high. She obviously showed us her love by cooking and we tried to show our appreciation by doing the dishes. His grandpa would visit and play with Kyle and Lana while all the cooking was going on. He also really enjoyed fishing. He shared some of his secrets with Kyle and taught him how to hold a fishing rod. Then he took Kyle out on his boat and watched as Kyle reeled in his first fish.
The short amount of time we have been able to spend with Ronnie's grandparents have taught our kids and ourselves to take some time to relax and enjoy every phase of this life here on earth. Sometimes our kids get into a really obnoxious phase and his grandparents would share with us the little obnoxious things their kids did and how short those phases actually lasted. His grandparents find joy in taking care of each other. I can only imagine how much their love for one another has grown through the years.
This past week Ronnie felt it was important that we take a trip to visit his family in Missouri because both his grandparent's health was failing. We would go to visit his grandmother in the hospital then go to see his grandfather at his house. Every time we would walk in the door his grandfather would smile and greet us, but I knew his mind was elsewhere with concern for his wife. My heart ached as I would hear him ask about his wife and receive bad news. I felt like I was keeping a selfish secret inside about what I knew about life after death and that families can be forever and that marriages can last for time and all eternity and not just till death do you part. But still I sat there quiet probably because I was afraid. Afraid of him not believing me, or not wanting to hear what I knew, or making him more sad talking about death, or not being able to understand me or comprehend what I was saying. I think that the thought crossed my mind that I was too late to talk to him. But I know it's never too late even if I never talk to him. I can still do the work needed for Ronnie's grandparents so that they can make their choice even after this life. I am grateful for my family and I am grateful for the Gospel that can make us an eternal family.
On a lighter note...I sometimes jokingly think...will my kids really want to be stuck with each other for eternity? As much as they fight and argue with each other the thought has crossed my mind more than once, but I've never taken it seriously. Today as I was writing this I stopped in the middle to go pick Lana up from school and this is what her teacher sent her home with today: