Thursday, November 19, 2020

Family is important

Family in a field

This is a deviation from our usual book talk, but I've been thinking about this lately, what with the pandemic making it difficult to visit loved ones and what that means to me.

My parents live two hours south of us. Before the pandemic, we would visit at least once a fortnight or once a month and share a meal, maybe some girly shopping time with my mum, and hanging out with my dad going over old photos. We returned home from an overseas trip right at the start of the pandemic and got stuck home. Since then, we haven't traveled south to visit or into the city for errands.

About a month after the lockdown ended here and we were allowed a maximum of two guests to visit in our house, my parents popped up to visit for a few hours. They didn't stay long. Only a couple of hours. We had a chat and shared some sandwiches I made for lunch. It was a lovely time and a lovely visit. I was surprised, though because it's not common in my culture for the elders to visit the children. It's mostly the children visiting the parents and elders in the family.

Beach with fence

A little while after that, my Steve was chatting with my dad, and for whatever reason, my dad wanted to head up to a city an hour north of us and spend a few days. Steve decided we'd join them and before I knew it, he had booked us a hotel for two nights, and we were planning activities to do with my parents.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the little vacation since my dad and I can clash at times. In fact, at the start of our holiday, when we were sitting in their hotel room drinking whisky, my dad said something that set me off and I object loudly about it. There we go clashing again. Fortunately, we were rescued by Steve's funny ears, and things got smoothed over because dad got a good laugh over Steve's ears.

Since then, we've had another dinner event in the city up north, and the parents have popped in for brief visits a couple more times. Yesterday, we ventured south for the first time since lockdown, which is about eight months, and ran a few errands. We fit in lunch with the parents and also a visit to their house later in the afternoon after all our errands to drop off and pick up things.

Mum and dad enjoy white wines, and we have plenty in our cellar. Steve stopped at the wine vault to pick up more wine and picked up two dozen whites for the parents. We also picked up a four-pack of a new craft beer for them from their favorite brewery. In exchange, I got Chinese sausages, roast duck, and mum made taro cake for us, as well as gifting me a bottle of this new rose cooking wine that she discovered, which is amazing. We had a fabulous time with them.

White wine

Here's the thing. Family can be many things. They can run the gamut from wonderful to challenging to downright awful. It's what we make of it that counts. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but this is what works for me. My relationship with the parents has had its moments. In my younger days, when I was young and stupid, there were some rocky times. It was challenging as we clashed between what I wanted for my life and what they wanted for me and how I should be living my life.

Thing is, with age comes wisdom. I'm struggling with getting older each year and finding that new wrinkle on the face now and then. But when it comes to family, I have learned a few things. I don't want to live my life with any regrets. I don't want to regret not having a good relationship with my family, and I don't want to regret not spending enough time with them. Of course, that's challenging with my sister and brother living far away, but we have WhatsApp for that. But with the parents, I can make the effort to spend time with them as they do with us because I realise even as I get older, so are they. They aren't going to be around forever. And as I see Steve's parents get even older, his father and brother passing, it's important to make the most of what time we have with them in the here and now. Steve's dad always said, don't come to my funeral (his parents live on the other side of the world from us) but come visit when I am alive and spend time with me. We took that lesson to heart and did that.

Family with child

Family is important to me. I'm not preaching to anyone or saying this should be the case for everyone, but for me, it's important that I have the best relationship I can have with my parents with no regrets at any given point in time. I know it's morbid, but if I lost the parents tomorrow, I have no regrets because I was the best daughter I could be to them, and I honored them the best way I could. I grew up listening to my nanna tell lots of stories of people whose parents had passed suddenly and how they regretted not spending enough time with them or having exchanged harsh words as their last words. I do not want that to be me. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm doing my best. 

To me, there's no relationship quite like family. Even the extended family with cousins, nephews, and nieces. Family is a special kind of bond that is different from friends even though I have friends I love dearly and will do anything for. I guess my point is that I'm grateful for my family, and I'd like to continue to be mindful of cherishing them.

Mother hugging child

Treasure your loved ones in these difficult times. I've seen many of my friends say because of lockdown that they haven't been able to visit elderly family, or that sadly some have passed due to covid or other reasons and not being able to be with them or attend the funeral because of gathering number restrictions. It's hard. We should count our blessings and cherish every moment we can spend with them, whether in person or over Zoom.

How are you doing? Have you been able to visit your family during this time? I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Hug your loved ones if you can.

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  1. Deanna, family is so important, so much of what you say resounds with me. I've been lucky in that two of my adult children and their family live reasonably nearby, so it's a short drive to visit them or vice versa - and they actually live close to each other, so if we visit one the other pops in at the same time. So lovely. But I have been missing our son and DIL and grandchildren in Brisbane, which is still off limits to us at the moment. When the NSW/QLD border opens, we will book a flight as fast as we can! Or vice versa. I've missed seeing the little boys in particular, their attention on video calls isn't brilliant and they soon get distracted when we talk (quite normal!), and it looks like they've grown so much this year. When we finally get together I can't wait to just sit and play with them, read them stories and give them a million hugs - and enjoy my son and DIL in person, as VS via the phone. I've had friends whose parents have passed away, and yes, some couldn't get to the funeral because of restrictions, and others close by have said to us please don't come, we know you love and support us, but we're only allowed 'X' number of people there and it must be family (which has to be). Unusual times. Cherish your loved ones and value your friends. It might take more conscious effort to ring or email more, instead of casually getting together for a coffee or a meal, but we need each other. Take care.

    1. Miranda, I hope that you are able to visit your son soon. In the meantime, stay safe.

  2. This is a beautiful post, I am lucky enough to have three of my children living in NSW but I do have one in QLD we have kept in touch by phone and one daughter is close enough to visit the other too are a bit further.

    I hope that we will be able to all get back to normal soon I do miss having big family gatherings but we are planning for Christmas and at this stage we are allowed 20 people and that is the number we have so all is good.

    Have Fun


    1. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I think it will be a quiet one for us.