I am the youngest child in my family. I will be sixty in a couple of weeks. My oldest sibling was twenty-four when I was born. Sadly, he resided hundreds of miles away and died over ten years ago. I never had the chance to know him as an adult.
I have two sisters who were sixteen and twelve when I was born. Now that we are all grandmothers, we are finally settled into the same ‘time’ together.
My oldest sister loves to travel and has made many trips to visit me and my children in a herculean effort to get to know Her Family better. For this, I will be forever thankful.
In the busyness which had been our lives — them raising their families and then me raising my family — the nearly fifty years since my mother’s death passed in the blink of an eye.
We always seemed out of sync with each other.
But as grandmothers — we are finding ourselves and each other. We are leaning into who we really are and forgiving ourselves for who we are not. And we can translate this to all our other relationships as well.
Including our long lost sisters. And trust me — forgiving family is the hardest thing you can ever do.
But this is one of the many gifts of growing older. It is part of the wisdom you gather.
You find it so much easier to forgive other Humans their Humanness. The larger picture expands to Cinemax proportions. You drop your telescope. The panoramic view of Your Life is stunning. Especially when you can incorporate the experiences of those Humans who shared the journey with you. Siblings, relatives, friends — who were there. Your memory keepers.
Last week I spent Thanksgiving with my oldest sister at my daughter’s home. We have made a new tradition of doing this — as it has happened two years running — it is now The Thing We Do For Thanksgiving. I am thankful beyond words for this time with her. To hear her stories of our shared lineage and to understand what her life — sixteen years previous to mine — was like with my parents.
Our side of the story is never The Whole Story — but we forget that in our need to nurse our hurts and to be Right. Especially when we have made those hurts part of our narrative — the very spine of the book — we have built Our Life’s Story upon. It is hard to find out the bit players who seemed to be the villains were not. They were living out their own dramas with their own traumas and simply doing the best they could with the lines they had.
The holidays can be fraught with tension and anxiety as families come together to relive old narratives. We can push play and watch rerun after rerun of all the old family dramas play out.
We can decide this is the year we change the plot. This is the year we don’t say the lines we were assigned. This is the year we ad-lib Love and if that is not possible — we exit stage left and find the story we belong to with a cast who is willing to improv.
My sister and I have been virtual strangers our whole lives. Until a few years ago when we looked up and reached out. You have to be bold and brave to alter your lines, your assigned character and change the entire plot of the story. And you have to be willing to take a risk. But it could make all the difference in the quality of Your Life.
Because Love is Love is Love.