I am privileged:
- To have been born when I was, in the state that I was, to the parents that I was
- To have grown up in a fairly carefree era: things were booming, jobs were abundant
- To have spent three years in Hawaii as a teenager, swimming after school (never mind going barefoot to school – o.k. so it was also the period of home perms and my hair was always frizzy – mostly positives), shelling on the beaches or surfing on weekends
- To have gone to a boarding school in the beautiful Napa valley
- To have had a sheltered life
- To have had a strong family and parents that worked hard to provide us with things that they themselves had not had, i.e. piano lessons (unappreciated), freedom from care, love, a stable environment and much more.
- To have had an education – one that although we all worked part time and contributed to our fees, saw four children through university without student debt
- To have been able to travel
- To have had two of my university years spent in France
- To have returned to Europe
- To have met my husband and had my two sons in Switzerland
- To have enjoyed a great health care system, one that made my husband’s life with cardiac problems a lot more bearable and one that has seen me through medical issues, including two bouts of breast cancer
But, above all comes the privilege of family.
My father was one of 9 children, six of whom had families – one of his sisters was the motor keeping that side of the family connected and I have many fond memories of us all meeting, especially the camping trips in Yosemite.
My mother grew up with her cousins – they also were 9 from three different sisters – and those cousins were the ones that lived closest to us whilst we were growing up so there again family was present. One of my mother’s younger sisters went with her when their aunt took them 3’000 miles away from their own mother and as she never married, we were her children, spoiled in ways that our own parents couldn’t afford – a second mother whom we lost too young to cancer.
My husband’s family – with the exception of himself – all remained within a 30 kilometer radius so keeping in touch with them as easy as well, never mind that our oldest son was born on the oldest German cousin’s birthday (twenty years later, so what)!
I have always been aware of family and my husband and I worked hard to make those trips to one or the other a fairly regular event so that our own children knew their cousins.
On my side of the family there was the summer when my sister and her husband brought their two sons to Europe: kids staying two months with us, they traveling. This forged bonds in between those three oldest, bonds reinforced over the years. However, as they grew, finished school and went on to their own lives it has become more difficult, especially as all six cousins live in different cities (o.k. my two are temporarily in the same city), different states with four in the USA and two in Europe.
Imagine thus the luck that it took for my sister’s two to be here at the same time, not only that but for both of my sons to be in town: serendipity doesn’t come much better. Thirty years later and two years after the wedding that last had all six together, four were able to spend 3 nights catching up and enlarging the bond to include a wife and girlfriend.
As I sat at the table the night we were all together, I could hardly believe the privilege that I enjoyed, that of having the next generation seated at my table, that of listening to their plans and dreams.
It may not happen again, but oh the joy of having enjoyed it now: carpe diem and don’t let the chance for family gatherings pass you by.