Our family has always been close and always finds a way to get together for joyous and for sad times. Several years ago my cousin, Jan, said that we all needed to go to the fun events such as weddings and anniversaries, not just the sad ones. I think that we have done that and done it well. I have been to so many fun family events over the last many years, not just the sad ones.
I have a dear friend, Emilie, who lives in Northern Arizona. Emilie was a teacher at my school and my neighbor before she moved up north. Over the years I have been to many of her family gatherings and have been amazed how much her family is like ours with all of the cousins, aunts, and uncles being a part of so many events. Emilie's family is originally from Spain and all of her aunts and uncles are tios and tias.
When Emilie was still my neighbor, her parents would come from California to visit. They always brought her Tio Nino from Flagstaff. Her parents were always so friendly and so welcoming and always made me feel like part of the family. They particularly loved my theme song "Tequila Sheila." Her Tio Tony and Tia Edith from Flagstaff also loved this song. I had to make them a copy and that is what they always called me. Our families had a connection even before I met Emilie as my cousins, Tony and Yaya, were friends with several of her family members from up in Flagstaff.
Cameron and I drove up to Flagstaff Friday morning to attend Emilie's dad's funeral. Her mom died last June and I was unable to go up at that time. The service was beautiful with many tributes to her father. Many of Emilie's friends who didn't know her dad that well, said that they were grateful to him because of what a great person Emilie is. I agree! So many people talked about his warmth and welcoming personality, his big smile, his telling of stories, and his love for family. Anytime family could get together was a time for a party! It was a beautiful service and a tribute to a wonderful family man. Both Emilie and her brother spoke at the end. Emilie used the words from my favorite children's book, "The Last Dance" by Carmen Agra Deedy. This is a beautiful story of the life cycle and the family. In the book, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human being has the right to three things:
but whether one is willing to dance at all.
To Sing. Even if you sing off-key. The crow has as much right
to a voice as the nightingale.
To Tell Stories. Those we love are never really gone
as long as their stories are told.
I know that next many months will be difficult for Emilie and her family. They will miss their wonderful parents as their lives go on from day to day.
Tom Brokaw speaks of our parents' generation as being "The Greatest Generation." So many of these great people are gone from our lives. We need to remember to tell their stories to the younger generation. Those we know are never really gone as long as their stories are told.
And so, my dear friend, here is an Irish Blessing for you and your family:
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
When the shadows fall--
You do not walk alone.