…of families and lessons..
I must mention my grandparents. I was blessed to know my great-grandmother, Elsa Laetz, until she died when I was twenty-four. I knew my grandparents, the Meyers, until they went to join her when I was forty-one. I could write for days about the lessons I learned from these three, but I think I’ll focus today on the importance of family.
I remember climbing into the car with my parents and siblings and driving literally through the woods and over the river to see my grandparents. As we neared their home, my excitement would build. As soon as my dad slid the car into P for park, I would leap out of the car and run to the front door to ring the bell. I can still see my petite “Little Grandma,” as we called her, open the door and smile out at me. Often “Gramps” would be right behind her. They would hug me, gush about how I’d grown, and welcome me in.
Immediately I would be engulfed in the fabulous smells of grandma’s kitchen. She could cook, and she always did. She made it seem effortless to put a meal on the table for eight, or eighteen, or twenty-eight. There was always plenty of food for everyone to feel like they had stuffed themselves.
And when I say everyone, I mean my grandparents, my great grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Several times a year, my grandparents opened their home and had all of us over. In the winter we were up and down the stairs, playing, laughing, and I’m sure yelling. In the summer we were in and out of doors doing the same. There was invariably an argument or fight among the children, and I usually ended up in tears, but there was always a firm hug and grandpa’s signature multi-move handshake before we climbed back into the car, after dark, to head home.
Now, I know that I view history with rose-colored glasses. I realize that it wasn’t as perfect as I remember, but even when I acknowledge that there were tense moments, misunderstandings, and insecurities, I can still say that everyone in the family was always welcome at the Meyers.
And you didn’t even have to be family to join. My grandpa was known for bringing home what I call ‘strays’. You know, the single guy who is away from family, the church workers who are far from home, the man whose wife passed away last year. And, if you came once, you were family from that moment on.
My definition of family stems back to the example of Grandpa and Grandma Meyer, their open door policy, and their willingness to welcome strangers into the fold.
Why? Because there is nothing at all like the feeling that someone has been peering out the window, waiting for you to arrive, preparing the best foods, and arranging the house in anticipation of your arrival. Nothing makes you feel more loved and more treasured than being embraced by that person who has been looking forward to being reunited with you.
We know that’s true when we hear these words: My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3.
Now that’s what I call a family reunion. I imagine Grandma and Grandpa greeting me at the door with smiles and hugs and I can’t wait to see them!