Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Your Anchor

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Blog posting from Erick Pettersen from People Connect

Family is awesome. Okay, my family is awesome. My 16 year old Nephew just walked into my room to use my bathroom, so he can head off to his first day at the local high school. Across the hall from me, my brother and sister-in-law, who flew to California from Minnesota with their family, sleep off another long day of keeping up with their four kids and one granddaughter. Over the weekend, my household went from three to 15, which happens every few years. Sometimes it gets up to about twenty, but my sister Kristina went to Cancun. Since neither of her daughter’s drives, they can’t come down here. Though, there is not shortage of laughter.

I cherish the summer days that my brother and his family spend with us, because while they do not happen that often, they happen. For several years, my brother Tom and his family never came to California. I don’t know why, but I assume it always came down to money. During those years, if I wanted to see him, I had to fly to Minnesota; and since all of my money went to paying for college, rather than taking leisurely trips, I went for several years without seeing my brother and his family. In fact, his two youngest children reached and passed several of their childhood years before I met either of them. Now, when Tom and his family fly out here, all of my surrounding family from southern California, Arizona, and Nevada takes a week off and joins the festivities.

For an entire week, we play card games, throw each other in the pool, update each other with stories about our life’s happenings, and eat brawts. Yesterday, Tom told me he is thinking about moving out this way, but he said right now the slow economy keeps him in northern Minnesota. Last night, after we finished the dinner my sister-in-law Mary cooked for the family, we celebrated my niece Brittany’s upcoming 15th birthday with Cake (my brother John forgot the ice cream), then five of us sat around the dining room table and shared more stories. After we finished our series of stories, we took our plates to the kitchen, I swiped a finger full of cake frosting onto my finger, wiped the rest of the frosting into the garbage, and set my plate and fork on the counter. Standing behind Tom’s wife Tammy, I reached out my cake frosted finger in front of her, and smeared it on her face. She called me a ‘dork,’ told me to sleep with one eye open, and went to clean her face. Our days of laughter, story telling, watching each other’s children grow into young men and women, and enjoying each other’s company will end.

For now, I enjoy them, because life will change. I tend not to hang around one spot for too long, so a year from now I may be in northern California or in a different state (I doubt it will be that soon). For now I enjoy the incessant noise, one or another of my nieces or nephews walking into my room and using my shower (I don’t even mind that they squeeze the toothpaste from the middle), my great niece looking wide eyed at the big people, and my sister Deb explaining the rules of Rummy 500 to me for the umpteenth time. Life may go on, but opportunities to enjoy today and the people who surround you today will end.

In all of your connections with people throughout your life, keep your family closest. I spent two years in Boston while my family enjoyed each other 3,000 miles away. And while I will always remember and be thankful for my time in Boston, the loneliness of holidays spent alone, birthdays singing ‘happy birthday to me,’ late night subway rides on the orange line hoping I didn’t get mugged, and breaking up potential bar fights between my Laker buddies and Celtic fanatics made me realize that of all of the connections I wanted to make in order to pursue my life goals, none of those connections mattered without family.

At the cost of sounding preachy, I am going to encourage you today to make your first and strongest connections with your family. All of those connections you make throughout your life are like a chain, but your family is the anchor that keeps your ship from drifting too far. You can make all of the connections in the world that will lead to wherever you want to get to, but without that anchor that is your family the ship that is your life will drift out to sea.


I am going to go spend some time with my family. Until next week, keep connecting.

Erick

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