Yesterday we celebrated my Aunt Audrey’s 80th Birthday. Her son pulled together a surprise birthday party for all the people closest to her. Not surprisingly, the majority of us were family. I believe this is a great testament to the love, affection, and solidarity of this family. This kind of family isn’t really that common anymore.
We had plans to go canoeing in Portland – as a part of an Audubon Society sponsored canoe regatta at Ross Island, to view and celebrate the Great Blue Heron. But as I thought about the special place my extended family has in my life, there was no debate about what was the most important event.
Several of her cousins drove up from Waldport, which is where my Great-Grandparents originally homesteaded. Most of us still live locally. My aunt and uncle live on the property my Grandparents bought when my Dad was eight years old. My cousins all live in the county where they were born and raised – my brother and I are less than 100 miles from where we grew up too.
I really felt affection for my family yesterday. Having kids of my own changed my perspective. My Dad’s siblings, a brother and two sisters, all older, are good, solid, salt of the earth people. Hard working, stable, family oriented, and nice. All of their kids – my cousins – are also good, solid people – and raised another generation of solid kids.
I thought about the tumultuous surprises of my birth, the desperation of my childhood, the poor choices I made as I entered adulthood, and the over compensations as I began to find my place and voice in the world. At various times of my life I’ve been reclusive, rebellious, renegade, and overly rambunctious. I’ve been sullen, exuberant, and cocky. I’ve been arrogant and I’ve been disrespectful. Mostly however, I don’t know that I fully appreciated what I have in this awesome extended family.
My cousin Rick did a great job honoring his mother yesterday.
I wish there was enough time to sit down with each of these people, cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, nieces, nephews, and extended family – I’d want to pick their brains, embrace their hearts, and absorb their presence. Knowing this isn’t possible, I will cherish them in my heart.
I embrace the legacy of my pioneer Great-Grandparents, who packed up their lives and headed west via the Oregon Trail – but today, I realize their legacy lives on in an extended family who continues to share the journey with one another. This, more than property, income, and status – is a legacy demonstrating true success.
My hope, is that I will enable this legacy to continue for generations to come.