As I’ve gotten older, I lose more loved ones each year. It always saddens me when someone passes away to realize that I haven’t seen them in a decade or more. I’ve learned the life lesson that family time is to be treasured.
My time with Jim was entirely too short, but we packed a lifetime of memories in the years we had together. We both came from large families where jam sessions were common events. My mom and her brothers used to bring their guitars, fiddles, and other instruments to every get-together. Jim’s family was the same, so we had the love of music in common. Before dementia, Jim could play any instrument with strings, but I never played anything and seldom sang.
About five years ago, I learned to play the ukulele and was pleasantly surprised at how much joy it has brought me. Since I’ve joined the family band, several of us get together three or four times a month. Our practice sessions are fun, learning experiences for all of us.
My brother Jimmy and my mom are the only two original members of the family band. My mom’s birthday happened to be on the day that we played music at the nursing home in Stover.
We began the program by singing Happy Birthday to my mom, and it ended with the residents singing Happy Birthday to her. We all laughed when one of the residents sang, “The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be…”
My aunt and cousin are residents at the nursing home, and they always come to see us when we play music for them. I was having trouble walking and used my cane to help me make my way to the door. As I walked past my aunt, she smiled at me and said, “It seems odd that now our kids are senior citizens.”
We met with other family members at a restaurant to celebrate Mom’s 96th birthday. We’ve had big birthday parties in the past for Mom, but due to Covid, birthdays had been smaller celebrations for the past three years. This small gathering of family felt almost perfect. We missed Tom and Teresa who weren’t feeling well and cancelled, and Marshall who had too far to drive.
As we gathered around the table, we had several conversations going at the same time. We enjoyed visiting with each other, and before long, my brothers took turns telling “Donnie jokes.” My brother Donnie passed away in 2012, but they still remembered several of his inappropriate jokes and the rest of us enjoyed hearing them.
Family dynamics constantly change. My mom is the only living survivor of her birth family. She has suffered through the heartache of losing her parents, brothers, sister, her husband, a baby, beloved grandchildren, and a grown son. She’s outlived many of her friends and other relatives.
Several of us “kids” call Mom every day, and she is always upbeat and ready to enjoy each day as it comes. My mom is a shining example of how our lives are in balance when we learn to focus on the blessings that life has to offer.
Yes, part of our
hearts will always grieve for those who have left this world before us, but to
honor our love for them, we must love the living. Love and time are the most
precious gifts to give or receive.
Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher