We’ve been on the road a week and a half, a time filled with travel, emotional family gatherings, visits with friends, and some time for thought. Out of it all I wish I could say that I bring an organized mind to my keyboard this morning but the fact of the matter is that my thoughts are all over the board like buckshot hitting a target. And the way I feel today that target must have been 30 yards away and the shot scattered far afield.
It’s Monday morning, after the wedding, and our son in law is taking a look at the car before we head South. Mike has long been our primary mechanic and it’s been a while since he checked it over so we want to get a good overview of where the vehicle stands while we have his expertise available to us. We’ve put 150,000 powered miles on this CR-V and another 30,000 miles while towed. It’s been a wonderful car but we are wondering how long we’ll stick with it.
Being such a small family it’s a strange, almost a difficult thing, to watch our only grand daughter married into such a large family. I have no worries about how she’ll adapt and adjust in her new role but there is a little part of me that’s sad to see traditions that have been our family’s head into a place where they may very well disappear. It’s the way with humanity; nothing lasts forever. And traditions are only traditions when there are those who carry them forward — and even in being carried forward there is always change involved. No two generations do the same things in the same ways: recipes change, words are altered, things fall out of favor. It should be thus. Which doesn’t alter the twinge of heart in knowing that change is inevitable.
Many of the wedding guests were from other states. Numerous of them have visited Milwaukee on previous occasions but I have to say it’s always interesting to hear a ‘stranger’ views on something you have been long familiar with. Their impressions can sound like a visitation to a completely different place. I wish I could have taken them all around to know the city I know so well — although tarnished now by 5 years absence. They have a visitor’s view and a limited one at that. They see the city as a caricature, not as a portrait.
We’ll be heading South in a day or two (if the car repairs are as minor as we expect) but the forecast to the South is not as nice as we might like. That may suggest a faster return home — with fewer stops along the way. We’ll make up our mind about our route based upon the caprice of winds and rain.
Tonight the newlyweds will be off on their honeymoon. Two weeks in Iceland, France and Corsica. Things change over half a century. We were 30 years married before we made it across the Great Water. My parents never had the chance to return to the land of their forebears. Drew, Mel’s husband, has already been to Europe several times and they are making their honeymoon the first of what may be many trips overseas. Good for them. The world changes. They are people for a new time and it’s right that their lives be different than ours had been.
I’m not so old that I don’t recall many ways in which the our (Peggy and Mine) decisions challenged my parents. We broke tradition in a lot of ways; not always welcomed by my parents — but they respected our individuality and allowed us to go off on our own and fulfill our destiny. I watched the new husband as he interacted with his family before and after the wedding and I see different dynamics at work and I’m reminded that each generation has to find it’s own ways to individuality — some with more success than others. My mother was tied to her mother until grandmother died at age 103. Mom was happy to go traveling with dad but she always wanted to feel that in an emergency — should grandma’s health change for the worse — that she would be able to get back to her mother’s side. When we married we immediately moved away from Milwaukee, lived elsewhere for almost the first 10 years of our married life and only then did we return to Milwaukee. As it turned out we were near enough to help out all four parents as their time came to leave this earth. I was there at mom’s side when she passed, I preached her funeral service. When she was gone we spent a lot of time with my father, and he with us. It was a special time in all of our lives when Peg & I got to see a different part of my dad than we had seen theretofore. And those last few years were special indeed to us. And when he too passed I preached at his funeral too. It was a very diverse pathway that we found over a lifetime for ourselves. In youth both I and my dad were very different people than we ended up being by the time of his passing. But the experience — and it was that ongoing process of life changing the both of us — of living made us into different people. As I watched Drew deal with the suggestions of his parents about how their arrangements should be altered I thought back on how I handled the suggestions and well meant interventions of family. Life challenges us all in ways unique to our own needs — and it’s good that it is so. I’m glad to see the man that my precious grand daughter has chosen to spend her life with. He’s a fine upstanding young man; she made a good choice and I have every reason to have good thoughts about their future together.
The Book of Genesis lays out a three fold program for marriage. It’s about leaving, cleaving, and uniting: leaving family, clinging to a partner, and uniting as one new unit. So many young couples do one or two of those things, but not many are smart enough to realize that a powerful marriage that’s going to bless the partners and their children needs all three. You can make a go of it with less than three, but succeeding in them all makes the new partners unstoppable. I think I’m watching the beginning of one of those marriages.
Ah, but alas, we must needs return to our home in South Texas and that means 1500 miles of Southward travel — and some attempt to stay out of the bad weather. So wish us luck…. Off we go.