Weekend Lessons – A Different Kind of Family Experience
October 1st is perhaps one of my favorite days of the year. It ushers in fall, and there are some traditions in which I always participate – the expected PSL, pumpkin carving with my family, The Voices of Elmwood in Owensboro and at least one listen through of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” However, this year was different. I did visit Owensboro, I did partake in not one but two Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I did attend Voices of Elmwood. But this year, both of my parents were sick and couldn’t participate in any of the festivities. I didn’t know how much this would change the way the weekend would unfold, but it really did. If you know them, you know my parents are special people – always full of energy, always experiencing life to the fullest. What I didn’t realize is how much that energy radiates and affects me.
Today’s Weekend Lessons is the first in a serious where I discuss five lessons/observations I learned throughout the weekend. Every Monday, I’ll be reflecting and sharing!
1. My childhood home is eerily quiet. My mother lacked her voice this weekend due to a virus. My father was still mostly in bed after hernia surgery. They are both chatty. They are both full of energy and excitement about the world around them. I can’t recall a time when they have simultaneously been ill. Thus, this experience was a first for me. Through a more morbid lens, it was the first time I thought about what it would be like without either of them around. I don’t like it. Everything we tried to replicate without them around like attending Voices of Elmwood or going to the airshow, seemed a little more dull without their presence. The house was so much quieter. The happiness didn’t radiate through the halls like it normally does. Dare I say the house didn’t feel as cozy, didn’t feel as much like “home”. I’m happy to report, they are both feeling 10x better today, but this experience made me grateful for who my parents are and what their existence brings to this world.
2. Saturday afternoon lunch is probably not the best time to discuss race-related topics with your extended family. Hear me out! Race-related conversations are necessary. Arguing generational perspectives about race-related topics can be a challenging world to navigate and minds are rarely changed, on either side even though all parties feel right. Over the past couple of days, I’ve thought a lot about whether these difficult conversations need to be had, and my conclusion is they do. The key is to push pause on the emotional side of the argument and try to just discuss the facts.
3. My husband thinks about the way he wants to parent. When we have extended time on the road, my husband and I normally embark on pretty in-depth conversations. Perhaps with a slew of my friends having babies or just returning from where I was raised, the topic of conversation that lasted the longest this time was how to parent. We discussed how we want to raise strong, confident children, how we want to introduce them to interesting and diverse role models early and how a world of discussion and questions a space to consider and explore is an environment we want to create in our home. Perhaps the most important piece of everything we discussed is the idea of honor. What does it look like to deeply honor the world around you – the people, the environment, the animals, the perspectives? How do you help inspire and teach that sense of honor to your child? We both concluded with a desire to explore these questions further and understand what they mean to us and in our lives.
4. My sister is becoming more like me. Suffice it to say, I heard her say the word “cozy” almost 10 times. When I arrived home on Friday, she showed me her Goodwill treasures. She had spent the day exploring the store with her best friend and ended up with so many new clothes for under $30. She warmed up hot apple cider before the Voices of Elmwood so the experience would be “more cozy”. When this happened, my eyes may have filled with tears. My whole life, I’ve tried to emphasize the importance of two things in my sister’s life: Goodwill and coziness. I’m happy to say at the ripe old age of 21, Cora is now embracing my wisdom.
5. Tell your story. Struggling to create space to write has always been difficult as I’ve expressed here. By the same token, I’ve always struggled to create time to tell my family history, my family story. This weekend inspired me. I listened to 10 brilliant stories about Owensboro residents and natives. Some of them were powerful women who started arts education programs in high school or served as the first female Post Master in the Owensboro region. Others started businesses, pursued the arts, served our country mightily. The common denominator for each of these unique individuals is that someone took the time to research and tell their story. These are strangers researching strangers and bringing them back to life. Doctor Frankenstein’s, in a sense, patching together the pieces of history to breath life back into the dead so those living can experience a glimpse into their lives. The Voices of Elmwood always inspires me to talk to my grandparents. To have them tell me stories of their childhood, their teen years and all those prominent life stories so our family for generations to come can have these treasures.
This weekend was enlightening, inspiring, frustrating and peaceful all rolled into 2 days. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. How was your weekend? What lessons did you learn?
P.S. Donald Glover is a god and everyone should watch Atlanta!
P.S.S. The Creme in Owensboro KY has far superior Pumpkin Spice Lattes to that of Starbucks. I think it’s the extra pump of caramel.