Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Family Ties

So, for the past few days, I have been reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I'm not sure how this fascinating memoir had escaped my eager reader fingers all of these years. I've been meaning to read the book for ten years and finally took it down from my bookshelf last week.

For those of you who have not read this book or seen the movie, I won't ruin any details for you. All I will say for my purposes is the book is an autobiography about family as seen from the perspective of the eldest son in an extremely impoverished family in Limerick, Ireland. Besides the obvious tragedies that befall this ill-fated family, one that bothered me to the core was how cruel the grandmother and the mother's sister, Frank's aunt, are to the children. No matter what the circumstances or how much you disagree with someone's choices, how can you be so heartless and cruel to innocent children?

My husband and I talked about this book over dinner last night (he has seen the movie), which led to a discussion about our families. My husband and I share the same core values and one of them is family. We both believe that above all, family is most important. We both want our children to grow up surrounded by family, which is why we have stayed close to home. Therefore, it is hard for me to read a book about such familial turmoil.

Nothing about my childhood would have been the same without the cheering section I had everywhere I went. My parents, grandparents and my mother's sister, my Aunt Brenda, went to most of my soccer, t-ball, basketball, and baseball games. They went to my piano recitals and my choir concerts. They came to every birthday party and every holiday. And always having that cheering section with me gave me a sense of importance and being special. It was comforting and secure and loving. It was like having arms wrapped around me all the time. My childhood wouldn't have been the same without them.

I know many people don't have this gift that I was given as a child. Some don't get along with their families, or there is impossible dysfunction and pain and cruelty, and still some have lost their loved ones. But, if you've got a good one, hang on as tight as you can and never take them for granted. I am so grateful for the cheering section I had as a child and we are thrilled that our sons now have a cheering section, too. We live near all of the grandparents, Aunt Brenda, cousins, and one set of our sons' aunts and uncles.

When our son sees his Grandma Jane or his great Aunt Brenda, he grins from ear to ear. He knows them well and he loves them. His Great Aunt Brenda brings him fun and unusual toys, like a talking rat or a tree swing or a huge balloon arrangement that looks like an octopus! And Max dances like a madman when he sees his cousin, MP. To watch him with all of them warms me to the core.

This past weekend, we celebrated Aunt Brenda's birthday. We had a wonderful time eating a delicious dinner by Grandma Jane and taking Max to the park together. Here are some pictures of the family at the park! And thank you Grandma Jane and Great Aunt Brenda for everything you do for Max, all the fun times you give to him, and every game or recital or concert or birthday party you will attend in his and our new baby's future! We love you!

Here is Max when we first got to the park. He was pretty excited to have so many people to play with and give him attention!

Daddy is the only one tall enough and strong enough to put Max on the slide!

Weeeeeeee! Grandma Jane catches him at the bottom! Look how happy he is! I love this picture. I wish it wasn't so blurry but I forgot to put my camera on the motion setting!

Now it is time to help Great Aunt Brenda open her presents. He was actually a pretty good little helper. When Grandma Jane told him to take each present to Aunt Brenda, he carried them straight to her without any detours to throw something at the TV or put a dog toy in his mouth.


  1. Aw...you make me cry. I'm so glad you live nearby. I couldn't stand to be far from you, Steve, Max and Harry like I am from Jill and Jason and Baby King. Thanks for staying around. I love you to the moon and back.

  2. I am glad you will have this kind of family relationship to "give" to your kids!

  3. Thank you for sharing your life and your family with all of us. Love you much.

  4. i totally want to read that book! and lady, family relationships are one of the best gifts we can give to our babies...having that 'cheering section' in life definitely makes a difference! hope you're having an amazing mother's day!

  5. Awwwww!! I loved this post. I am totally with you on this all the way. Love is the secret to all that is good in this world. And when we have a loving family, we cannot count our blessings often enough.

  6. That slide picture is perfect. I even like the blurring. The expression on his face is great!

    I can't read books like that anymore. I've discovered that since I've had children, I just can't read anything that involves a child in pain. I've put down countless books over the past 6 years for that reason. I've been lucky enough to have a great family as well and I'm hoping I'm able to give my kids what I have. Good family ties.


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