Sunday, June 15, 2008

Family Relations and Relationships

The last few days I have been posting some items regarding Fathers Day.

Right now it's nearly 11:30Am on Father's Day, and my Father's Day is already complete. It was complete last night around 7pm.

A few days ago, Rachael, my oldest who lives here in town, asked if I was available Saturday, I told her I would be after 12 noon.

She told me she was going to plan a Fathers Day surprise and between her and her brother Josh and sister Tiff, they pulled off a wonderful day. With the support of their significant other's (Rachael's boyfriend Brandon; Josh's girlfriend Madeline; and Tiff's husband Jon), we had fun playing and talking.

(By the way, none of us took any pictures Saturday, so I had to dig up some photos from Christmas and one from Jon and Tiff's wedding two years ago)

I like surprises, (the good ones). And I was told to come hungry and be prepared to be outside.

We went to a Thai restaurant where I had Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken which was delicious. My first time at a Thai restaurant.

Now that my kids are adults, we introduce each other to different experiences. I introduced them to Henry's, they introduced me to some different beers. On our last trip to Indy, Tiff and Jon introduced us to a fun Italian restaurant, previously, we introduced all my kids to Shapiro's Deli in Indy, etc...

After lunch came the outdoor part. A trip to Columbia City and a round of miniature golf and go-karts. It was fun, it was crazy, and I discovered something else too as we were waiting in line for the go-karts.

I discovered that this might be the last time that all three of my kids would be together for awhile. As Tiff and I were talking, she confirmed a rumor that had been floating around that Tiff and her husband Jon would be moving after he finished his degree.

Well that time is coming this summer. Jon will get his degree in August, and then they are planning on moving to the Northwest U.S. in October.

I understand following your dreams. I also understand what it must have been like for my parents when I left home at 18, even though I was only about an hour away.

Later in life, when I moved 2 hours away, and then 4 hours away, as I had my own family of 5, and the visits with parents were less frequent and required more planning due to weather and schedules.

I recall my Dad who died 10 years ago, telling me when I was 20, that I was a blessing to him. My blessings are tripled with my three. And even more so with the addition of Abby and Ian as step kids. Abby will be 20 next month. I have lived through her entire teen years under the same roof as she was 12 when Kathy and I met and 13 when we married.

What stands out the most is the relationship bonds.

As an only child, I was envious of my friends that had siblings. But I also was pretty comfortable with myself too.

Having three kids, we were outnumbered as parents. There were times when they were all one "mass of kid" with the name, Rachaeljoshuatiffany. Yet each of them continues to grow as individuals.

I also see a closeness between them. As we were all going our separate ways after the fun yesterday, we left Rachael and Brandon's house so they could get ready for their evening with Brandon's family. Tiff and Jon were getting in their car to go back to Indianapolis, Madeleine left in her car to go to get a crochet hook for her dreads, and I took Josh back to my home where his car was parked.

He is on his way to eastern Ohio for a summer internship, and as we were talking I urged him to make sure that over the years that he would work with his sisters to get together on a regular basis.

Last night, as Kathy and I were sharing a burger outside at Nick's Boardwalk at the Gas House, I thought about this even more.

Every family has some areas of disagreement between family members. Heck, any time there is more than one person in a room, the two of you will find something that you disagree on if you look hard enough. And the more people in the room (or family), the easier it is to find areas of conflict.

But I urge families to start a tradition of coming together. It could be like I experienced yesterday around the go-kart track and mini-golf course. Or it could be an annual meal. And the ground rules are simple. This time of togetherness is to celebrate and enjoy what you have in common, even if all you have are common parents or grandparents. It's not a time to argue, fight, point out the areas of disagreement, no it's just the opposite.

Am I a dreamer, An idealist, coming from the only child perspective that doesn't understand the dynamics of family conflict?

Yes and no.

As someone that didn't have siblings, but had friendships, I know that there are special bonds that occur within a family. And as someone that married twice into larger families that were filled with various conflicts, I have seen first hand both sides of what I'm talking about. I have seen the love and laughter when those conflicts are set aside, and the focus is on what we have in common. Sort of the optimistic vs. pessimistic view points.

Well, that's all for now. My Father's day will continue with a trip to my folks grave, a trip to the Howard family homestead and then dinner tonight featuring imported corned beef sandwiches, from Shapiro's in Indy courtesy of Kathy, Tiff and Jon.

Hope your day is great too.

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