When I was a kid, my family would make the drive to visit relatives in Louisiana and Michigan. During those visits, my brothers and I dreaded having to listen to the stories the older relatives told. Stories of hardships they had and privileges they lacked were the dullest stories ever in our young minds. The only thing that interested, and grossed us out, was the spitting ability of our great-aunts and great-uncles. Some could spit tobacco clear across the room into a coffee can.
My brothers and I entertained ourselves by an exaggerated recollection of some of our relatives’ stories. “I had to walk to school in the pouring rain—ten miles with no shoes. And I had to beat off wolves” was a favorite.
I didn’t realize back then how priceless their stories were. Once I was old enough to really listen, they taught me the value of hard work, sacrifice, and pride in accomplishment. Above all, they taught me to have faith, especially through the hard times.
Well, that generation of relatives is gone. Now I realize how much I miss their stories and their wisdom. I’m reminded of those stories, because I spent July 4 with my in-laws. Three generations gathered to munch on ribs and be whipped at bean bag toss by a grinning aunt.
As my sisters-in-law and I played games with our teenage nieces and nephews, I couldn’t help noticing that the teens wanted our company. They didn’t roll their eyes and slink off like I did when I was a teen, resentful of having to sit in the same room with adults so uncool (in my eyes) because they couldn’t do the latest dances and had no idea what music I liked. Instead my nieces and nephews shared their favorite YouTube videos with us, while teaching their grandparents how to use their new smartphones.
I wonder what stories they’ll remember when they’re adults looking back over the years. Certainly not my game-playing prowess. I was thoroughly schooled when we played a game called The Resistance, and much laughter ensued. I hope they’ll recognize the value of laughter, stories, and someone’s undivided attention—gifts you don’t realize how much you miss until they’re gone.
Fireworks from clip-art-free-clipart.blogspot.com.