I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Still in recovery mode

The Sixlings, in order by oldest to youngest
It's Sunday morning, sitting here in my own bed with my cup of tea and laptop, preparing to write my usual Sunday post and thinking about the past week. Last Sunday I was sitting propped up with this same laptop in my brother's office on a very comfortable air mattress. The entire household was asleep, and this morning Smart Guy, the only other person in my apartment, is quietly sleeping. It's the best time of the day for me. The birds are beginning to wake outside but even they are mostly still asleep and the sun won't be coming up for another hour.

Last Wednesday was pretty grueling, starting out in Texas at 6:30 am and traveling home for the next fourteen hours, before Smart Guy picked me up at the Bellingham Airport. The shuttle bus took three hours from Seattle, and I saw standing water everywhere, from days and days of rain. Once home,  I ate a little dinner and went to bed early. It felt so good to sink down into my own bed and fall asleep. I slept ten hours with nary a stir. Every night since returning home, I've needed more sleep than usual. The very first full day home, Thursday, I went hiking with the Senior Trailblazers and covered nine muddy miles, which I wrote about here.

Thinking about my family, who we are to each other, and how fortunate we are to continue to be well and with enough means to gather together as we did last week, brings two distinct and opposite feelings to mind. One, that it's already behind us and that moment in time may be captured in pictures and memories, but it's already past. The second feeling is the timelessness of being together. Even though I had not been with some of my siblings in years, as soon as we were together we connected as though no time had passed. Twenty years separate the youngest (Fia) from the oldest (me), and whether or not we are blessed with another gathering like this last one is yet to be seen. Fia already began discussing with me tentative plans for another gathering to celebrate her 50th and my 70th birthday in less than two years.

Frankly, that is almost too soon for me to contemplate! It seems like tomorrow, and I'll need at least a year to recover completely from this last one. That will change, though, as time passes and my life picks up as usual here in Bellingham. My first visit to the coffee shop on Friday was wonderful, with little two-year-old Leo seeing me arrive and rushing over with Thomas the Train for me to read to him, and Gene giving me a hug and letting me know how glad he is that I've returned. My usual spot in the aerobics class was still there, and this Sunday brings me closer to what has become normal. This post is included in the mixture.

My parents have been gone for a long time now, but their offspring are still alive, hearts still beating with our family's tendency to develop coronary artery disease (which took both Mama and Daddy) seemingly held at bay by statin drugs, which were unavailable to our parents. But still, when I think of it, something will cause the six of us to finally be unable to gather as we have done over the years. Just as last week's picture has two of our numbers missing, the fact of life is that it is ephemeral, everything born must die someday. But today, in April 2011, I feel the presence of my incredible family here in the same universe, and for that I am eternally grateful. I leave you this morning with a picture of the five sisters, taken last week by my brother Buz.
PJ, Fia, Norma Jean, Jan, Markee


The Retired One said...

How wonderful to have so many siblings and for you to feel so close emotionally.

Linda said...

You write to beautifully, and your family could be so many families I know, including mine.

I agree with you, the older we get (I'm 68 too), the harder travel is! I hope you are all still around in 2 years for your next reunion!

Linda Reeder said...

Familiy gatherings certainly do cause us to reflect, first on days gone by, and eventually to what will come in the future.
We are five surviving siblings, two having passed at a young age. Four of us get together quite often, while the fifth, my second brother, lives on the east coast. Now we are beginning to deal with our mother's health issues, which brings emotions to the surface.
I must say, DJan, that you are looking very good as the "old one" of the bunch.
Wishing you some sunshine by the time of your next hike!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Wow! You are an inspiration. I keep saying that and I keep meaning it. You're still as beautiful as that gal in the middle picture in your header. Hiking nine miles, aerobics. Travel alone is tiring. I can imagine you needed the respite of sleep. Someday my siblings and I (five of us and I'm the youngest)will start having to say good-bye to one another and it's almost too much to bear. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

Linda said...

You are indeed fortunate to have such a nice family to enjoy and count on for support. I love to see those kind of families.

I have no one as I am an only child, and Bob's to are now down to 3. Enjoy your family while you can.

Friko said...

Enjoy your wonderful family relationship while you have it, don't go looking for tomorrow's pain. It'll come all by itself. For today, bask in the glories you have.

It is coming to the end of my Sunday here, I only wish I had what you have.

Pamela Kieffer said...

How wonderful you had this time with your family.

Teri said...

I enjoy reading your posts and your thoughts on family. I have a question about the vest you are wearing in the photo, I have been looking for a travel vest with pockets as I don't like carrying a purse. Will watch your comments sections if you can reply, thanks.

DJan said...

Hi Teri, I bought it on sale at Christopher & Banks, but I love to wear vests of many types. I'm wearing another one right now, and you're right: the pockets are essential. Notice that I am also wearing cargo pants with pockets on the legs for my iPod Touch and cellphone. Never can have too many pockets!

Anonymous said...

haha! Your comment above mine made me chuckle. Since I wear long muumuus (Hawaiian dresses), I usually have only one pocket, so must carry a purse with me when I go out. Bet that would make you go crazy!

You and your sisters look so beautiful together. And your only brother is a handsome guy, too.

I know you will always treasure these moments with family.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Wonderful photos of your family! I enjoyed seeing your sisters and your handsome bro too. I am envious of your relationship with your sisters..I am 16 years older than my sister..and she may as well live in a different country. Our parentage is the only thing that connects us..we are as different as night and day..she is very, very spoiled...and a "I" person. Which as you can imagine does not go over with me real well.
Family dynamics is always interesting.
You will settle back into your routine now..it is good to think of you back home enjoying Smart Guy and the birds:)

Sally Wessely said...

DJan, this was a beautiful post that left me feeling a bit teary. I was struck by your phrase, "the timelessness of being together." That is a great quote that captures essence of the value of those bonds created within the family that last forever.

I would say that you, my dear, also have a sense of timelessness about you. That is a gift worth hanging on to.

Grandmother Mary said...

The inspirational part is how you enjoy time with your family and then give yourself time afterwards to savor the memories and share them. Good for you and thanks. BTW, you look great!

Arkansas Patti said...

What a grand looking bunch you have. Not a clinker in the bunch.
Family time, once we spread out all over the country, becomes so dear and special. So glad you got to enjoy that time and have pictures to remind you.

Red said...

Good lookin' group!
Your parents must have been very different as there is a great range in size and looks. You're a happy looking group and I think all of you must have had a good week.
If you don't start to plan for another reunion , it'll never happen.

#1Nana said...

Lovely post. It made me yearn for my own family. It really is a gift when you can all be together.

Paul C said...

You are a photogenic group! How wonderful that you can still meet occasionally in our mobile society.

Gigi said...

What a beautiful family! And so many sisters! I've always wanted sisters...and the fact that you remain close. You are a lucky woman. Glad you are home safe!

gayle said...

What a blessing to have so many siblings! I am so glad that you were able to go and be with your family!

Whitney Lee said...

I'm glad you all were together-and that you took pictures to share! Thank you for that. I think I know what you mean about the timelessness of being together; I feel the same way when I get together with my cousins each year. It's as if we pick up exactly where we left off. There's an amazing comfort in that.

After the emotional whirlwind of being with your family combined with the exhaustion of travel, it's no wonder you slept 10 hours straight! Your body obviously is asking for a little more tlc; it's probably the culmination of several weeks of being on the go or getting ready to be on the go. A little extra sleep and getting back into your routine is bound to help:)


Thanks for the touching post about your sibs.
I have two sisters left. We lost our brother, and our oldest sister several years back.
I'm the youngest and have two olders sisters. WE got together last summer at our anniversary party.
Who knows when we'll get together next. Two of us are in Ohio and one in FL.
Ill health keeps two of them at home much of the time.
It makes the time we have together even more special. Thanks for reminding me of how fortunate I am to have two sisters who love me.
Blessings, Barb

Robynn's Ravings said...

My husband is from six and the dynamics are so interesting. Very glad for you that you all got to be together and no spaces of awkwardness were present. I'm continually surprised by joy, blessings, love, and generosity of heart in my husband's family and in my friends I call my family-ship. :) (I stole that from someone - if I were younger, I'd know who!)

Donna B. said...

Wonderful, wonderful post. We are six siblings also. Four brothers, two sisters. Time together is definitely, without a doubt, very precious, especially with the passage of time...

I find myself more willing to travel by car than airplanes. I get too wiped out emotionally, phyiscally, mentally and hate the hassel. We have one brother in Ohio, everyone else is driving distance.

CrazyCris said...

5 sisters and 1 brother... kind of makes me wonder how your brother felt growing up! :p
(My dad still says he's "blesses among women" what with a wife, 3 daughters, female dog -whenever we've had one-. Even the parakeets we had once upon a time were all female! loL!)

I think a 50/70 celebratory reunion sounds wonderful!!! I can't wait to hear you tell us about it. 2 years is just around the corner, and I'm sure you'll be able to see some of them now and again before then. Do you guys use Skype? It's a blessing for my family!

I love it when family comes together, even for the briefest of moments. We're enjoying a surprise visit (well, not for me, I helped organise it!) by my sister from London this weekend. My parents' faces when they saw her were priceless! :o)

glad you had such a wonderful reunion! enjoy the "restful" time back home! :D


Nancy said...

Beautiful post, DJan. I am so happy you have your sisters and family, that can only bring comfort as the years slip by. It really is the small things that are so important in life.

Stella Jones said...

Speaking as one without brothers or sisters, I feel you are incredibly lucky D-Jan. I'm so glad you all had the chance to meet up and I'm sure it will do Norma Jean a power of good too.
I'm just now catching up with my blog reading, after my days of leaving and travelling. I too needed to sleep a lot when I got back to Blighty.