Tag Archives: relatives

Connecting – powerfully emotional

The last trip we took to British Columbia to see my husband’s family was 2003. Although he’s been out a few times since, it’s seems like a life time ago that we journeyed with a camper and four kids out through the States so our children could meet aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time.

Using our upcoming 30th anniversary as an excuse, I successfully convinced my husband that a trip out West would be money well-spent. As we approached Vernon in our rented car I could feel the excitement building but I also felt frustrated that our scheduled visit with my husband’s parents wasn’t to take place until the next day. Amazingly my husband decided we would surprise his parents and pop in anyway. That first connection inspired a flood of emotion in me that continued throughout the visit.

I don’t think I was prepared for the powerful emotions that would overwhelm me throughout the visit. Doors and arms were open wide welcoming us as if we’d never been apart. It was so moving to experience the hospitality and warmth of family – some of whom, if not for Facebook, I wouldn’t really know at all.

More than once, moved to tears, my heart overflowed with gratitude. To feel connected to these people that I’ve only felt on the periphery of was very moving. Identifying common traits and characteristics among “his people” that I’ve grown so accustomed to in my husband caused me to smile so often. These mannerisms and actions that in isolation seem to so uniquely define him, in the company of his parents and siblings are shared and familial. I wish my kids could have been there to connect things up in the same way from gestures, to phrasing, to the way his dad’s mouth goes down at the corner – it’s like it all fits.

While in Vernon I also had the opportunity to visit a cousin of mine I hadn’t seen in over 20. My real memories of him are rooted back to when I was pre 7 years old. A bit apprehensive at the start, his truthful expression of emotion related to my deceased brother,  who was his best friend, opened a dialogue and connection that moved me and I felt would have pleased my brother.

So much enjoyment from getting to know my niece and her family, enjoying – if only for a brief time – the relationship of my sisters and brothers in law – enriched our experience beyond my expectations. Getting to meet a nephew I’d never met before and his wife was also a dream come true. Another niece home from travels abroad colliding perfectly with our visit seemed so wonderfully timed; and yet another nephew was in town with his wife and sweet little son – more than I could have hoped for!

As I reflect on the visit I am so filled with gratitude that tears well up in my eyes. Connections, family: is there anything more meaningful or important?  I am sad that there is such a great distance between us but I hope that the doors that opened will remain open and the connection strengthened in person will continue.

Seeking comfort through connection

Some of the things I value most, I recently realized, are things that bring me comfort.

white teddy bear
much loved white bear

I still have my white teddy bear who’s “fur” has been worn off in many areas and has been sewn back together at the seams more than once. His eyes have lost their shine but he’s still mine! I feel angels around me and their presence comforts me. I’ve sought comfort in books, movies, the viewpoints of people like Dr. Wayne Dyer and others. I’ve found comfort in the assurances of psychics that my loved ones are still with me. I enjoy certain photos because they stir up memories that bring me comfort. And I work to retain memories from years ago that I hold onto dearly because that comforts me too.

I remember looking out through the bars of my crib and seeing my sister sitting on the floor in darkness. She sang in a comforting voice to help me get to sleep. I remember my other sister concocting an elaborate portrayal of an Indian that visited me and my desire to keep pretending I thought it was real so I wouldn’t lose the comfort of the experience.

It seems so much of my life, my decisions, and what I value most are about seeking comfort. But I wonder why I seem so wired to seek comfort. Perhaps it’s the me from my childhood seeking refuge from the chaos or perhaps the me who often feels the ache of loneliness.

This week I bumped into my cousin whom I haven’t seen in many years. It was such a strange coincidence to meet him in a store we had both taken our mothers to, in a city that neither of us lives in. And as it turned out we had parked right beside each other. I can’t help but wonder if there was more at work than coincidence to bring us together that day.

My heart sang and my soul was fed to see my aunt for the first time in decades and to have an authentic sincere conversation with my cousin. Typically, in the past, as the youngest in my family I often felt dismissed by the cousins who were closer in age to my siblings. How nice it was to meet with him on an adult level, to feel respected and valued. And yes, I felt comfort in that connection.

Woman standing in doorway
Viola Hickey, the grandmother we never knew

While we didn’t see much of each other through childhood, there’s a bond in knowing our fathers were brothers, we shared grandparents we either didn’t meet nor had little contact with, and great-grandparents and other members of our family tree we never knew as well.  A shared but separate experience, a bond that feels familiar and comforting even though years or decades pass between visits, and yet a comfortable familiarity and yes love that extends beyond the passing of time.

Perhaps my drive to seek comfort is also about seeking connection. It is feeling connected to angels that provides comfort, it’s the way photos, movies and books connect me to memories, experiences and perhaps even strangers. It’s the connection to relatives, to our common threads of history, heritage and the people we’ve loved that also brings comfort.

I suppose this insight reveals the dark side of seeking connection. In an extreme sense perhaps that’s how gangs or mobs form. Perhaps that desire to belong, to connect, to be part of something is the lure that opens the door in extreme circumstances to ugliness. Perhaps if we concentrated a bit more on providing that feeling of connection and comfort to our children and those we love they won’t be left looking for it among those who manipulate. As much as I seek comfort and connection, I’m confident that I’m pretty good at providing it too. My children know I love them and that is probably the one thing that provides me the greatest comfort.

I’m so thankful to the angels, to spirit, to God, to whatever wonderful contributor connected our paths and connected me with my cousin this week. May I continue to be grateful for connections and open my heart to the coincidences that bring joy.