We have been writing about families all over this country; now let us introduce you to our family. I (Linda) remember days when I rolled over at 6 a.m. with a groan wondering how in the world I was going to survive the day. There were mouths to feed, music lessons to practice, homework to finish, myriads of sports events to cheer for and the never-ending orthodontist appointments. (I think our funds to correct those genetic buckteeth built our orthodontist a very nice house.)
But the family traditions made life so fun! Days like burying Richard in a ton of leaves on his birthday every year at Liberty Park and writing on adding machine tape a list of things we were thankful for on Thanksgiving morning made all the hard stuff a blur in the background. Our life was full of mayhem and a lot of minutiae, along with some moments of pure magic.What you don’t know from looking at this picture is that we took our lives in our hands to get up on that 10-foot-high tree limb in a park near our home. And by the way, we were on our way to the hospital directly after the picture to get a skin graft on the leg of one of those boys who had had a motorcycle accident. Isn’t there a story behind every picture?
What wonders have happened between the time of the picture here and the picture below taken at our family reunion at Bear Lake last summer exactly 20 years later!
Before you look at any of these pictures and imagine that our family is perfect or that we grew up in perfect families, let us assure you we have struggled just like you have. All families are struggles (and that is a mild word for it).
Richard’s father died at age 39 when Richard was 15 and the oldest of five children. His mother raised those kids at a poverty level (though they didn’t know it at the time) and has been a widow now for 50 years. At age 88, she is praying every day that her long-deceased husband Dean will come and get her.
I was born into a blended family with a saint for a father whose first wife had died and a dynamic mother who was 38 when she married my dad (who was 13 years older than she was). They adopted a child and then immediately had me when mom was 41 and my sister when she was 42. I have a half sister who died of cancer and a half brother who died an alcoholic.
Those 20 years between the pictures above represents a lot of joyful and gratifying times mixed with heart-wrenching, downright miserable times. In our own now extended family, there is always at least one child in crisis and as soon as that crisis eases another one shows up. We have an adorable 4-year-old granddaughter who was diagnosed last year with a rare genetic syndrome that results in later blindness as well as a struggle with obesity and kidney issues, unless the world of research can find some way to intervene.
Life is never easy! But the hard times are often what create the goodness in our lives even though we wouldn’t ask for them. What a truly incredible world we have encountered in our travels, through the eyes of families living in different cultures. From China to Africa we have found the values parents want for their children are exactly what we want for our own! We look forward to continuing to share our insights with you on the most important element in any true definition of success—the family!