Years have passed, and now I find myself back home in the Arklatex. With my family and friends close by me, I once again feel at peace in the land of my birth. I have a sister who remains in California, but the rest of my siblings and parents now live back in Texas. My brother and his wife live here in the Arklatex but work in Dallas. Dallas is not so far from the Arklatex, and they come home once monthly to their quiet little cottage home, and leave the big D for the peaceful tranquility of the country for the weekend.
Last night my brother called me and asked if my husband and I would like to join a group of relatives who were planning to get together after dinner for a sing-along. My brother is an amazing musician, always has been, and we accepted the invitation. When we were younger and my brother joined me in California, he had his guitar in tow. On evenings when we would have friends over for pool parties or movies, he would break out his guitar, and we, along with our friends, would sing old songs that my brother and I had grown up singing with our mom and dad. My parents had always enjoyed singing and playing music with their children before we would go off to bed, or on the weekends to keep us entertained. That is how we entertained ourselves when black and white TV was our only source of distraction. That is how we built a strong familial bond of beautiful memories that we will never forget.
After dinner, last night, my husband and I got into our car and drove down to my dad’s house. My brother lives next door to him, so he brought over his guitar. My dad played his base; my husband played the mandolin, and with one other guitar in the mix, we had music. Oh yes, I forgot, on occasion, we had percussion played by hand on the backside of a notebook, as the room was too small for a set of drums. As my family played their instruments, we all joined singing lyrics and creating our own unique harmonies. It was a fun evening. We sang songs and beautiful hymns. A particular favorite of the evening was a song recently written by my brother.
In addition to being an amazing musician, my brother is an amazing songwriter. When we were young adults living in California, my brother would write songs about his journey through life. His songs were so beautiful and to this day, remain my favorites. We sang into the late hours, having fun and creating new memories to add to those of our youth and young adulthood. As the evening came to a close, my husband and I drove home.
As we were traveling the backcountry roads with a keen eye watching out for deer, I played a recording I had taken with my electronic device to upload in an email to my daughter who is away from home for the next eighteen months. As the recording panned the room, I listened to the instruments and lovely voices singing in beautiful harmonies, and I was taken back to my childhood memories. I was grateful for parents who took the time to develop special memories and encouraged the development of amazing talents within the lives of their children. My parents are beyond the age of retirement now, and as I reminisced back to my childhood, I was instantly grateful that when they are gone, I will have wonderful memories and familial bonds of fortified love and admiration from which to draw upon. My parents, although poor and tired, took the time to develop strength within their children that would sustain us during the trials of our lives, and after they are gone from us.
My children are away from home now. They have grown up into talented and confident young women. They live in the far-reaching corners of the world away from their dad and me, and we miss them very much. As I write my article this morning, I pray that I have fortified them as my parents did me. I hope that I have created strong familial bonds that will sustain them as they live their lives away from home in unfamiliar and frustrating situations. I hope I have prepared them, as my parents have prepared me, to be able to sustain life after I have left this earth.
The bonds of one's family are one's strength. They are the foundation of life upon which we build our success. If there are weaknesses within one’s family, one may experience defects of character and discrepancies within one’s life. Life is complicated enough without adding vulnerabilities in one’s foundation. The family is an eternal principle of truth, and the very structure of success and happiness. Were it not so, why would everything in life be patterned after it? It is incumbent upon parents to raise strong, talented, and moral children. If we do not, society will fail and we will see the destruction of our children’s happiness and success crumble. We must, as families, fortify ourselves, and as parents, strengthen our children so that when our times come, they can stand on their own and carry on our legacies throughout the future generations that follow.
Thankfully, my parents are still living. I know, however, that one day they will die. I dread that day with all of my being. When their times come, I know that I will be devastated. Thankfully, I will have my brother and my sisters, and all of our wonderful memories of growing up, from which to draw for strength. I will have my husband, my children, and my grandchildren to help me continue forward. When my grandmothers passed away, I relied heavily upon my memories, and my future, to see me through the devastation of loss. I trust it will be the same when my parents die.
Last night was a fun evening for my family and me. More importantly, it was an evening of communion between the generations that will sustain us during times of devastation and loss. It gave us new memories and strengthened those already planted within our hearts, so that as we travel the natural progression of life and death, we will be able to do so, strong in the knowledge that families are forever, life is eternal, and that we are loved beyond measure.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, certified grief counselor, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.