I have been on a little excursion. You may have noticed that my posts have been a bit sporadic over the past few days. I travelled to my childhood home on Saturday and have had one great moment after the other since.
On Saturday I had dinner with my parents and my brothers. On Sunday I worshiped with the whole family. Sunday afternoon my niece and and saw a movie. I’ve eaten well, slept famously, and have had many walks down memory lane.
This morning was particularly special. I drove about an hour to visit my aunt and uncle. This is my father’s older brother and his wife, my godparents. Uncle Louie and Aunt Margaret — precious gems.
They have been there for everything. Everything. My baptism. My confirmation. My birthdays. My wedding. My grandparents’ funerals — my mother’s parents, not just my father’s. None of this probably seems astounding, but let me tell you why it is.
I’ve mentioned before that my parents were divorced in the 1970s. Divorce was not very common back then, particularly not among ‘church folk’. When divorce happened, it was fairly common for the mother to get sole custody and the father to fade into the background, sending financial support and visiting occasionally. This was way before shared custody.
At the time that my parents were divorced, my dad was relocating to take a new job several hours away. One didn’t necessarily cause the other, but they happened around the same time. I was in elementary school.
We stayed with my mother, as was the usual course of events. I am thankful that we had the stability of one household and the continual involvement of the relatives on my mother’s side — outstanding grandparents, loving aunts and uncles, and cousins I still communicate with today. But, I have been sad over the years at the loss of relationship with my dad’s family.
We saw my dad. He provided for us financially. But, he was several hours away. We usually stayed with him in the summer for a week or two, talked on the phone regularly, and saw him around the holidays. Sometimes we would go with him to see my grandmother, his mother, but of his five siblings, usually the only one we visited was my Uncle Louie, and his dear wife, Aunt Margaret.
What’s remarkable is that of my dad’s five siblings, Uncle Louie and Aunt Margaret were the only ones who regularly drove an hour to come see us at my mom’s house, even if my dad wasn’t there. They said, “Your mom is still our sister; you are still our family.” It may not sound that remarkable now. But, believe me, it was and still is to me.
They came to every birthday party. Aunt Margaret wrote letters to place inside each card that she sent. They always hugged my mother when they came and when they left. They modeled for me how to treat family, even in the midst of brokenness.
When I grew up and had a family of my own, they would then drive two hours just to drop by and say ‘hello.’ They always hugged me, my husband, and our children, and said, “I love you.” Aunt Margaret continued to write letters and share news from that side of the family, including the history that I didn’t know much about. I never doubted for a moment that I was loved and treasured by my godparents.
Recently we experienced divorce in our extended family. It was, and is, heart-wrenching to watch people we love go through this devastation, but it gave me some measure of comfort to know my role. I had learned it through my whole life by watching Uncle Louie and Aunt Margaret. No one has left my family or my heart. Each person involved in the divorce is, and will continue to be, a member of my family. I love them and treasure them. And I will do everything to demonstrate this as the days go on.
Of the many things in my life I am thankful for, Uncle Louie and Aunt Margaret are near the top of the list. I told them that this morning and reminded them of the special lesson they taught me.
since God loved us, so also we ought to love one another
1 John 4:11