Giving Thanks, Part Seven

The brother and me in Jerusalem, Israel circa 1984.

“In this life, family is the most precious gift we are given, the most sacred. Turn your back on them and that is when you truly have nothing.” ~The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Film (2005)

My family isn’t very large. There are my parents, my brother with his wife and three kids, and me with my two boys. Both sets of my grandparents have passed on and I am not close (in location or friendship) with any of my cousins save one. People are shocked when they find out I don’t speak to my mother or father every day. They are even more baffled to discover I might… might… call or email my brother once every six months or so. As paradoxical as it sounds… that doesn’t mean we aren’t close. The simple truth is that we are accustomed to being apart without the benefit of technology at our fingertips.

My brother and I are five years apart. He went to
our boarding school a year before I did. So, by default, we spent that year apart. Even when I joined him on campus, however, we didn’t spend a lot of time together. Trust me, as a senior, he didn’t want his 7th grade sister following him around. Not to mention, I had my own things to do. My parents would visit when my brother or I or both had sporting events but telephone lines were sketchy at best in Kenya those days… so phone calls were limited to relays of important information when necessary. After my first year at boarding school my brother graduated and returned to the States for college. He would call my folks from time to time but not often. He definitely wouldn’t call me at school. Separation. Normal for us. He was in the USA. My parents were in Tigoni, Kenya and I was at school in Kijabe, Kenya. Four years later I graduated from high school and came to the State for college. My brother had already graduated and moved to Missouri. Me – Arkansas. Mom and Dad – Kenya. More separation. Overseas phone calls were still outrageously expensive. Public internet did not exist.

This was the environment in which we grew up… separated by distance. But, that never diminished our love for each other. I may not call or write my brother often (he doesn’t call or write either) but when we get together… it’s business as usual. We tease one another. We joke. We laugh. We go to movies and leave our kids behind with their grandparents. We tell stories about one another to a fascinated audience of one another’s children. When the whole mob of us converge at our parents’ house, like now, it gets a little crazy. We play tons of board games. With the kids (Boy 17, Girl 15, Boy 15, Girl 13, Boy 10) you never really know what’s going to happen. It’s far more interesting now that they are older and I don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed our once or twice a year get-togethers until this past Labor Day Weekend (September).

I love my family. I give thanks for my family. From the youngest (my Little K) to the oldest (my dad) they are truly the best… and the perfect ending to my seven days of Thanksgiving.


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