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, November 21, 2021

Family

Me and Markee

Most of the time on my blog, when I talk about a sister, it's usually Norma Jean. But the truth is, I have two other sisters I rarely see and so they aren't as much a part of my life as she is. Norma Jean and I grew up together, and the three youngest siblings weren't even born before I got married and left home. Well, my brother Buz was born when I was sixteen, but as anybody who has teenagers know, I didn't pay much attention to family; my social life revolved around kids my own age. Family was peripheral. I was a self-centered juvenile most of the time.

But that was then. My brother and two youngest sisters were only in my life when I visited my parents, or if I was between marriages and taking refuge in their home. That was actually the only time, really, when I got to know my youngest siblings. While I was busy with my own life, my career, or outdoor activities, they were busy growing up. Markee married Bob, a Canadian, and moved to Alberta, Canada, decades ago, where they bought a lovely ranch and raised three children. Now those kids are all grown, and their daughter Sarah was married in a beautiful ceremony in August. I wanted to attend, but there were no Americans present because of the pandemic and still-closed border. 

Now that the border is open, Bob and Markee bought themselves a camper-type vehicle and hit the road. They are traveling eventually to Florida, where they will spend the winter in their condo in Apollo Beach. It's about an hour's drive south of Norma Jean, so fortunately it's been well looked after by her and Norma Jean's son Peter. They have used it as a second home during the two years that it's been vacant. All that is about to change, now that the missing family can get there for the winter months. They will be snowbirds, traveling between Canada and Florida, which was their original intent when they bought it. They were only there for a few months before they had to return to Canada because of the pandemic. And now we can travel between countries once again.

Markee's name is actually Mary Katherine, but when she was growing up she was always called by her nickname within the family. Her husband Bob doesn't call her that, as I was reminded when he'd address her by that unfamiliar (to me) name. They came through Bellingham for us to have a nice lunch together before they took off for Texas. Driving diagonally across the country on their way to Florida, in order to visit family. I was so happy to spend more than three hours with them before they took off. They will be with my brother Buz and sister Fia and all their extended family for Thanksgiving.

We spent much of our time together looking at photos of the wedding, a huge affair with 175 guests and with a very professional photographic essay of the entire event. You know how they do it, starting with the bride and her entourage getting dressed and following through the day's proceedings. Now Sarah and her husband are happily married and living in their newly purchased home.

It was so lovely to catch up with her and Bob after so many years without much contact at all. We realized that the last time I saw Markee was at our sister PJ's memorial service in February 2014. And now Markee has turned sixty, my baby sister has grown up to become a senior citizen! Since I was already a mother when she was born, I don't like to think how old I have become. My birthday is in a couple of weeks, when I will enter my eightieth year (and turn 79). How quickly those years passed!

I am the only one of the six of us who doesn't have children (living ones, that is). Norma Jean had two, Peter and Allison, with two grandchildren. My brother Buz has one grown daughter, Trish, who has not had any children. Markee has three, as I mentioned, two twin boys (who are no longer boys), and Sarah. PJ had two sons, one of whom managed to have two sets of twins. PJ was so proud of her beautiful grandchildren. And last of all, my sister Fia, who had two children, a boy and a girl, both of whom are married and have given her lots of grandchildren.

When people ask me about my two sons, both of whom have died, I always say I have no living children. I was only 22 when my son Stephen died, and a matron of sixty when my son Chris died. No grandchildren for me, and that makes me sad. But it's through no fault of my own that I am the only one without them. That doesn't mean I don't have plenty of family, though, as you can see. My parents, who are also both gone, would be proud of the accomplishment of their children and grandchildren. As am I. 

Family. I married SG when we were both fifty, and now that is more than a quarter of a century ago. The time does indeed fly when you're having fun, an adventurous life, and a career. I have been retired now for thirteen years, and after having moved from Boulder, Colorado, to Bellingham, Washington, I have still been having fun, a good life, with lots of friends with whom I enjoy nature's wonders in the Pacific Northwest. And there was that quarter of a century I spent jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. So much of my life is now in the past, but I have enjoyed every bit of it, the bad and the good, the ups and downs, and am now settling into a more relaxed and serene existence. 

Part of what I have started is a journey into discovery of mindfulness and meditation. Although my dear partner has developed an illness that may become problematic, we have good healthcare and for now he is doing just fine. He's under a good doctor's care, one he trusts, and he's learned that he will not need to undergo any further treatment, other than keeping an eye on his blood count and keeping himself from getting an infection. Fortunately for us, everywhere we go we are masked, and that will continue for the foreseeable future. I venture out much more than he does, and we are both triple-vaxxed and have received our flu shots.

There are no guarantees that we will be in such good shape in the future, since everything changes and moves on, forward into time. There is little I would change about my life, and I count my blessings at every moment. I am filled with gratitude for having had such a wonderful life. And there's my virtual family: YOU! I enjoy reading about your own adventures and lifestyles, and I glean information and joy through you as well. Who could ask for much more?
One's family is the most important thing in life. I look at it this way: One of these days I'll be over in a hospital somewhere with four walls around me. And the only people who'll be with me will be my family. —Robert Byrd

While many of my dear virtual family will probably not be in that hospital with me, I'll have my laptop and we can Zoom together. These days, there is no excuse for not being surrounded by family and friends, since much of our lives has become available for anybody who wants to share it. I am so grateful for the internet, and for being able to "visit" you whenever we wish. 

And with that, dear friends, I've finished my tea, my post, and my ruminations. Now it's time to get out of bed and spend some time following my breath before heading out into the world. Another day without rain is a good one. The rain returns tomorrow, but it's nothing like the deluge we endured earlier. And my dear partner still sleeps quietly next to me as I get out of bed before the sun rises. 

I'm sending you all my best wishes for a good week ahead, our Thanksgiving week here in the US, and I'll be enjoying a quiet meal with just one other person: guess who? Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


19 comments:

Linda Reeder said...

I'm up and out of bed, much later than you, but early for me when I have no need to be up early. It's foggy and I'm hoping that will burn off by the time I get out for a walk, after I get going and then complete my long PT routine.
We will have family here for Thanksgiving: our son, Tom's sister, two of my cousins who are brother and sister and live here in Seattle and my cousin's man friend. All of these people are childless and so I have collected the "strays" who live nearby. Since we don't travel over the river and through the woods any more, we don't gather with my big extended family. Things change, and I'm good with that.

Barbara R. said...

How nice to read all about your families. My Thanks-giving will be solo. I've got some good vegetarian recipes in mind, including some fake burgers to maybe have as sandwiches or with a mushroom gravy...lots of goodies. Cooking for one is difficult at times, but bringing in a carry-out meal does help sometimes. Kudos to your sis and bro-in-law with their RV trip to FL. My ex lives in Sun City Center, and one of my sons in Brandon, both very near Appolo Beach.

Elephant's Child said...

I always love your Sunday musings. Thank you.
I grew up in small family, yes there were my parents and four children, but no relatives on either side of the family.
Over the years that has changed immensely. My brothers have children, their children have children and I believe that my brother's will become grandparents soon...
Enjoy your thanksgiving, and I do hope that Smart Guy's illness gives him no trouble. Cyber hugs.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad the borders have relaxed so you can possible visit your sister but I know she must be delighted so that she can now go to Florida. My brother and his wife left in his RV for Florida yesterday. They really missed not being able to snow bird it last year.
Sorry to hear SG is having health issues and hope they can be managed.
Have a thankful Thanksgiving. I plan to.

Anvilcloud said...

You seem to be appropriately thankful as TG approaches. I hope the day, or holiday weekend, I guess, is good to you. TG is a fair event here but not on the same scale, and it doesn’t start the Christmas season for us. Given our climate it is appropriate that we celebrate by mid October, and it is always on a Monday — the second one in October IIRC.

Rian said...

So glad you were able to visit with your sister! That was a Thanksgiving gift. Family (and friends) are important and Thanksgiving is a time when we can celebrate and be thankful for them. We will celebrate quietly without a big family gathering again this year... for safety sake. Hopefully this will be the last time this is necessary. We plan to have just turkey and dressing sandwiches... no big dinner. Actually I have done the family get-together here for years and to be honest, all the cooking and prep is getting to be a bit much. Time to pass the baton??
Hope you and SG have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Marie Smith said...

There is a family resemblance with you two sisters. It must be great to be able to connect after all that time. I cannot imagine what it’s like to have more than one sibling as I only have one brother.

Things have begun to return to normal for travel between Canada and the U.S. the Snowbirds are thrilled to be heading south again.

Happy Thanksgiving, Jan. Take care.

Far Side of Fifty said...

So sorry to hear that Smart Guy has a health problem, I send my best to him and to you too as it isn't easy having the love of your life having health issues.

Nice photo of you and your sister! How wonderful that you had a good visit on their way South.

I hope you have a marvelous Thanksgiving! We plan to be home alone but will gather on Saturday evening hopefully!
If I had an older sister I'd pick you:)

William Kendall said...

Good that you can get along with your siblings.

I am one of seven, five surviving after two brothers passed away. But I no longer have a relationship with my two sisters. I had to cut them out of my life to protect myself.

Red said...

I always like your contemplation on life. I have younger brother who is 15 years younger than I am. We try at a good relationship but it's difficult. We don't live near each other so it's difficult.

Gigi said...

Oh, I am so glad you got to visit with your sister! Sending virtual hugs to you. Have a great week!

Rita said...

I hope SmartGuy will be okay. So nice to have a visit from family you don't get to see very often. Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tabor said...

Such a grounded review of your life over the decades. We have much n common and maybe after the joy of the holidays I will post. I will be spending TG with my hubby and our son and his wife. It will be quiet but probably filled with puzzles and board games.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am so glad that you got to visit with your sister, whom you had not seen since 2014. That is a long time! Also glad that SG's health has stabilized. Take care and Happy Thanksgiving!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, this was a lovely posting. You shared with us the arc of your life and I can see in every sentence the gratitude you have for that life. I cannot imagine the experience of losing both of your sons. But I am sure that the loss of them has depended your compassion and empathy for others who experience devastating loss. You are such a lovely human being. Peace.

Linda Myers said...

Love this post! Your life is full indeed.

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John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Thank you for your kind words on my blog today. Although I read Eye on the Edge last Sunday morning I did not write a comment at the time. Your comment today reminded me that I needed to stop back by. :-) I enjoyed this post about family history. I recall thinking that I wanted to ask you about real vs virtual friends. I don't know if you accept suggestions for topics on Eye, but I think it would be most interesting to hear your thoughts about how blogging has worked out for you over the years. In your very first post, Sunday, December 6, 2009, you said, "Already I feel the excitement of creation. I'm going to allow it to unfold and see where I go with it." So, here we are nearly 12 years later. From your view point how has it unfolded? Hope you and SG had a fine Thanksgiving. See you tomorrow! John

Margaret said...

Beautiful post. I am also in the twilight or perhaps dusk? of my life and enjoying past memories while doing what I can to revel in the present. I may be more limited now, but that doesn't mean I can't squeeze all the joy out of the time I have left. I want to live long enough that my (so far) only grandson remembers me.