Weird Families Make Good Teachers

I have a weird family. I’m sure you do, too. As I’ve grown older, I have come to the conclusion that every family is weird, in its own unique way.

I only mention this because of something that happened the other day. I was sitting in a funeral parlor next to my grandfather. He looked down and commented on the fact that I had my hat in my hands. I responded with, “It’s not going to be on my head in here. I seem to remember someone teaching me that.” He smiled, hopefully knowing that I meant him. See, my cousin and I would often spend our Saturdays with my grandfather, we call him “Bear,” working, having adventures, or simply “being.” In many ways, Bear helped teach me to enjoy life. He always told young, excitable me, “Why don’t we just enjoy right now?” Wise words and I have come to embody those words. He showed me the joys of baseball, of small grocers tucked away who had the best cheese, and trying new things (especially food) whenever I had the chance. He prodded me to walk tall, to respect others, and to look people in the eye when I spoke with them.

My Grandmother, Memom, is never without a story. Between her and my mom, I have a deep love of stories of all kinds, and especially the ones found in the Bible. She is also one of the most generous people I know, and is completely genuine about it. I don’t know that I have ever known her to refuse someone who was truly in need.

From my other grandmother, Memother (and yes, when I talk about them, most people give me a look of “aren’t those names awfully similar?”), I learned about laughter. Her laugh is strong and can carry over a conversation, and always brings a smile to my face. Even as an introvert, I can enjoy that side of the family’s joyful, exuberant conversations because of the laughter and sincerity there.

Grandpa, my other grandfather, was a jack-of-all-trades. From him, I guess you’d say I learned that with a little (or a lot) of effort, trial and error, and asking the right questions, most anything is possible.

One of the most lasting lessons I learned from my parents was how to have a great marriage. As much as I gagged and protested when I was younger whenever my parents kissed, held hands, or showed affection for one another, it gave me a great example to follow. It’s hard to find marriages that are so filled with affection shown so openly. They might have disagreed at times, but I never saw a divided decision. If they made one, it was together. I learned so many other things, too, like a love of cooking and curiosity from my father. I got my love of comedy, reading, and giving gifts from my mom. I also got great life lessons like, “walk it off” and “get back on that horse” (though, there was never a horse involved.) They also gave me something everyone should have: the drive to do my best, and then the wisdom to let it go and not worry about it. I have a hard time with the last part of that one, but maybe I’ll get there someday.

I could keep writing like this for days, probably. I guess what I really want to get across is, be aware. Your kids are always watching you, and you never know what they’ll remember. They’ll remember what seemed like flippant conversations in the car, hearing the Canadian national anthem for the first time at a baseball game in Florida, and trips to the Huntsville Space Center.

Kids are always learning, from the “official” lessons to the “off the record” ones. Every moment is a lesson in disguise: Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

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