Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family

As Beve and I drove across the state Sunday (the kids were in E's car), we debriefed the weekend.  Of course.  I absolutely love driving with Beve.  It's always been a golden opportunity--hours on end with no distractions are the perfect time to communicate about any and everything.  He does most of the driving, for a couple of reasons.  In the days when our children were in two seats behind us, buckled into car-seats, he drove primarily because it was easier for me to move around in the van to meet their needs.  In those toddler days, we often drove in the evenings so the children would sleep.  When I asked our pediatrician the secret to long hours in the car, he told me to wait for the first sniffle, then give them all Dimetapp. And I confess we did that...we called it "tapping the kids."  Worked like a charm.  I shouldn't confess this, probably, but they all seemed to survive it without a Dimetapp addiction, which is something.

But after those early years, they often governed the conversation, when they weren't reading their way across the state.  It's only been in recent years that we sold our last van because we're not carting our kids around.  We've only been sorry we downsized our vehicles a few times. A couple of years ago, we celebrated Christmas on the Oregon coast, complete with a stack of gifts.  J had to drive home alone the evening of Christmas (he works in retail), and we didn't send  nearly enough stuff home with him, so we were like sardines in my Matrix at the end of the week.  I'm not kidding--there wasn't one spare centimeter of space in that vehicle.  I had to drive because we couldn't move the driver's seat back far enough for Beve to fit behind the wheel, and the girls had to sit cross-legged in the back seat because the floor was filled with stuff.  It was truly ridiculous!

These days, when we travel by ourselves most of the time, Beve still does the driving.  I have a very difficult time sitting in one position for that long, and even as a passenger, long car trips are hard on my body. By the time we get home, it takes me at least three days to recover.  And Beve is going deaf in his left ear from Meniere's (an inner ear problem), so if he's the passenger, his bad ear faces the car, making it difficult to converse with him.

Anyway, all that to say, we had a great conversation as we traveled Sunday.  About his work, of course.  About which home improvements we want to tackle this summer.  And, of course, about my family, who we'd just spent the weekend with.  Now every family is disfunctional in its own way.  Beve often quips, "Let's put the fun back into disfunctional."  But my family's disfunction is familiar to me, even endearing.  We're a little more sarcastic than some folks believe is good.  We bring out the same old lines to tease each other with--I tend to be a typical oldest sister, an expert at ordering others around (my older brother, not withstanding).  We can argue about sports teams (my older brother and his family are rabidly anti the University I graduated from, and I try not to take it personally, but really...!), about music (part of my family really loves country music--primarily the ones who actually live in the country), and there are subjects that we avoid: politics, for one--we're a divided down the middle lot when it comes to party affiliation; religion, for another--we're made up of evangelicals, agnostics and Catholics.  And there are subjects we completely agree on: Mom, for one.  We were practically tripping over each other to help her move from car to wheel-chair, to pew and back.  We're united in supporting my sister who has the lion's share of the work with Mom, too.  Sure, we offer her advice--well, her and everyone else in the gene pool.  We were raised by inveterate advice givers (Dad always said, "We'll give you advice, you decide what to do with it"). 

But the point is, we're family.  We know each other's jokes, each other's stories.  And we'll show up for each other's stuff, good or bad.  And that's what it's mostly all about, isn't it.  Being there, I mean. Showing up in kilts, if that's what it takes.  Isn't that it?  Putting on the clothes that says, "I belong to this family."  And isn't that what it means in the Family of God?  Putting on Christ like a cloak, so that the world knows just by looking at us that we belong.  Living in such a way that our very being, our very presence proclaims to our neighbors that we are different, that we have set our minds, hearts and lives on things above.  Even if we don't 'feel' like it, we put on Christ, put on Love, and go out into the world, wearing Him.

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