Saturday, December 15, 2012

Picking up the torch

It began in October, at Art's daughter Laura's wedding in Akumal, Mexico. All but one of his six kids were there. And his ex-wife Nancy and her husband Clete were there. And Art and me. We spent six days there - some of it as a group, some in smaller groups, some in couples or singles. Everyone got along. Effortlessly. It seems that, 20 years after their divorce, the bride's parents were amicable and glad to be there. Laura had both her parents, and both her stepparents, sitting in the front row at the ceremony. And, before the vows, she gave each of us - all four of us - a long-stemmed red rose and a hug.

It continued last Saturday, when Nancy and Clete and Art and I cohosted a family gathering at a local venue. Laura and her husband Brian flew out from New Jersey, and Laura's sister Melissa and her husband Scott flew up from San Diego, and Laura's three local brothers drove over. And 46 people - Laura's aunts and uncles and cousins from both sides of her family - celebrated the season, with a toast from Laura's brother Jason welcoming his new brother-in-law.

And in conversations with some of these grown offspring over the weekend, topics included what Art and I would like as we grow older and what our expectations are - or are not - from our kids; suggestions from people further along in their careers as to financial strategies for the younger ones that might lead to a values-driven life and/or a comfortable retirement; who might be able to help someone get a job in a company they work in; possible destinations for future all-family gatherings (Sand Point, Idaho or Yosemite or maybe Lake Tahoe).

The "torch" part is that most of these conversations were initiated by the offspring rather than us, the parents. No one is passing the torch yet - it may be another decade before Art and I are ready to give up our driver's licenses or downsize to a single-level house or move to a drier climate - but we can see the next generation is ready to pick up the torch as it's needed. To give their younger siblings - or us - a hand. I told Melissa if she had any questions about our plans for our later years, she could ask. And she did. I told her where the "executor stuff" is and she didn't say, "Oh, we don't need to talk about that yet."

I've been in Art's kids' lives for 20 years. I've been an involved stepmother. Two of the six have lived with us at some point. Now I see that they have been raised well by their parents. They are taking care of each other, and they're willing to give us a hand if we need it.

They're picking up the torch. And that is a good thing.


16 comments:

rosaria williams said...

Isn't that a wonderful feeling, the gathering, the sharing, the understandings and support offered and anticipated? You and Art must feel so proud.

Grandmother said...

You and Art must be glowing. What a good thing you've done- modeled how to care for one another so the next generation do that- take care of one another and you if needs be. You are blessed. Thanks for sharing such a great story. Feels good right now.

#1Nana said...

Good for you and Art. That's the best Christmas gift ever. I like those destination events for family gatherings. Once you're over the transportation costs to get everyone there, it's so much easier and everyone has their own space. We haven't had any of those discussions with our kids...hell, the spouse and I barely talk about it!

Olga said...

That is a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season--or any time. I love to hear about families that get along and especially "broken" families like ours.

DJan said...

What a wonderful feeling you shared here. I am so happy for you and Art, and for the healthy families that have been created, now and in the future. Kudos to all! :-)

Kathleen McCoy said...

How lovely that you can celebrate special times as a whole family, not a broken, segmented one. And how great that you welcomed Art's kids into your life -- and now they embrace you as a parent as well. Being kind and considerate and loving is such valuable modeling for the next generation.

Perpetua said...

As parents we couldn't ask for more, Linda. well done.

Linda Reeder said...

You have provided wonderful modeling for the next generation. Now it is paying off. Well done.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a nice extended family that you all share!

wheels4me said...

Thanks for the support and positive feedback. Talking with Sandy 26 days ago (on the rainiest day on record in the rainiest month of November), it was clear to both of us that the most important thing in our lives is our relationships--with our HP, ourselves, family and friends.

Congratulations on having achieved fantastic success in your family relationships. I appreciate and admire you & Art.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love your openness on these hard topics with the family. This is possible because you have built good solid relationships built on trust. You model how step families should behave. You model how parents with adult children should function. You should be proud of the job you have done.

Tom Sightings said...

Isn't it great to watch as the kids effortlessly start to pick up their responsibilities -- as though they've been training for them all their lives? But credit where credit is due: It reflects well on their parents!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Our worry is not who will be looking after us but rather what kind of life will our Buddy have. My sister has volunteered to be there for him. She's 10 years my junior.

Lynilu said...

A nice trait to see. I love when families can manage to be functional after a divorce. My first husband and I did so, and it was, is, wonderful to be at family events with the whole fam-damily together.

So kudos to your family, younger and older, all!!

Sandi said...

So lovely to read, comfortable camaraderie, with many branches of the family tree all thriving and supporting one another. Isn't this they way it should be?

Galen Pearl said...

That is nice. I have that sense sometimes of passing the torch, or preparing to at some point in the future. How lovely that your blended family is so successful. It's so important for the kids all the time, and especially on special occasions like a wedding. Good for all of you.