Family First!!

Why is it so hard to share crucial news with family? These are the people we’ve grown up with our entire lives. Yet, it is often extremely difficult to disclose unfavorable news when these unexpected times arise. I know for me, the reasons vary widely.

I never want to feel like I’m burdening my family with any issues that pertain to me. I feel like they all have their own lives with respective issues to go along with everything else that they have to worry about. So why would I come along and make their load(s) even heavier? That being said, what’s worse, not sharing important life events or unloading all of our chaos on our families?

I chose to share my latest health crisis with each of my siblings, one by one. Each of them is so very different. It was so hard to say the words without choking up. These are the same people that I used to run, jump, skip, get into trouble at home with, defend from punishment until the end. Being the oldest of my siblings, sometimes holds me to a higher level to be emotionally and physically strong. So, when illness started visiting me more often a few years ago, I felt like I was somehow letting my them down. It was as though I was somehow damaged and that they could no longer look to me as their solid pillar of strength. Illness had chipped away at the ‘rock’ that they’ve always known me to be. So, here I was again, showing them that transparent and most revealing side of my vulnerability with this latest health interruption.

My family has been there for me through some very rough times. As I sit here writing this piece, I don’t recall them ever making me feel like I was weighing them down, in terms of giving them one more thing to worry about as a result of sharing. They’ve always been gracious and willing to jump in wherever and whenever I needed them and that is priceless. After all, that’s what family is for right? I guess I would feel pretty bad if there was something going on with any of them and they made the decision to not share with me, no matter what their reasons were.

It is sometimes very hard to look at things with the shoe on the other foot. My family has a right to feel like they don’t want to burden me further with their problems. I certainly have felt like that before, as I touched on earlier. At the end of the day, we are all blessed with the love of family for many reasons. They are the glue that helps to hold things together when the going gets rough. The load often gets to be a little too heavy to carry alone. So, God blesses us with siblings and parents that are down here with us on earth to provide the all-important emotional support and love that is so necessary for survival.

For me, the word family exudes togetherness, love, friendship, support and strength. It’s so easy to take it for granted when you have a supportive family. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Have you told your family lately how much they mean to you? When is the last time you told them how much you love them, or encouraged them in their life endeavors? If you haven’t done any of these things lately, maybe it’s time to do that. Let them know that you appreciate them always being there for you when you really need them the most, and even when you don’t. Now, obviously I can’t ask you to do that without doing the same myself. It’s an unwritten item on my daily list of things to do. Even on those days when I don’t speak to my family voice to voice, simply because of busy schedules and time demands, I send them love through my prayers, thoughts, and hopes for each of them. A quick text works well too, just to say, I love you and I’m thinking about you. Family first I say!! What say you?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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What would my grandma say?

 

I often wonder what my grandma would say about so many things if she were alive today. She had such high hopes for me and my siblings. My grandma had a unique way of making each one of us feel like we had a special and individual relationship with her. It takes a special person that can make so many feel uniquely special, all at the same time.

I can’t help but feel that my grandma and I shared the most unique bond of all. I was the firstborn and my mother has often told me that my grandma fell in love with me instantly as a baby. So much so that she actually kept me for the first nine months of my life!  This still amazes me when I think about it now in my adult life. It started off that grandma was only going to keep me for a couple of weeks to give my mother a little break. A couple of weeks became a  month, two months, so on and so on until nine months quickly rolled around. My mother actually had to insist that my grandma give me back which my grandma of course did, but reluctantly.

Sometimes, I think my own bonding time with my mother suffered some as a result of the first crucial months being spent away from her. It’s almost as if there’s some kind of unspoken disconnect that exists between my mother and I, even to this day. Now, let me be very clear. My mother and I love each other to pieces, but I often feel that intangible missing link that casually floats between us.

My parents used to take my siblings and me to stay with grandma for the summers. We would cry when our parents dropped us off and we would cry when they came to pick us up. Oh the fickleness of children! My grandma would always promise that one of those old days she was going to come back home with us and stay for a couple of days! But until that time came, we just cried like babies when we had to leave grandma at the end of our summer visits.

This one particular summer visit had quickly come to an end. I knew there was a chance that grandma might come back with us this time, but I also knew that she probably wouldn’t. To our surprise,  grandma announced at the very last minute that she would indeed be traveling back home with us for a visit! We were beside ourselves with joy! We didn’t have to be sad about leaving grandma behind  because she was coming with us this time! We couldn’t have been happier!

I had recently learned to “french braid” my hair and had been promptly given the job of braiding all three of my sisters hair as well. Can’t say that I was happy about that but practice makes perfect, right?  Even though my grandma preferred wearing a wig, she was so excited about my new braiding skill, that she wanted me to try it on her as well. I happily braided her hair that weekend. I don’t know who was happier – me or grandma. Grandma only stayed for a few days as she was preparing to move the next weekend into a new house closer to town. She was so excited about us visiting her there in the future summers. That next weekend, my dad went to pick her up for the move. He could see my grandma sitting in her chair by the window as she had often done while watching and waiting for us to arrive in the summers. My dad knocked and knocked but she did not come to the door. My dad went and got someone to help break open the door. Sadly my grandmother had  passed away in her chair with her coat on waiting to go to her new surroundings, but she never made it. I still remember the day my father came home and broke the news to the rest of the family! I learned later that she had passed away with the french braids that I had done still in her hair! My grandma was indeed a special woman and I still feel a bond with her, all these years later. I hear her quiet encouragement when I am hesitant about a new project or adventure. I wonder what she would think of what I’ve accomplished thus far. Would she be pleased with the adult woman I’ve become? I would love to know what she would make of the world and all of the changes that have taken place since she passed away all those years ago. What would she think about all the things I’ve gone through in my life so far? I may never know the answers to these questions but I do know that grandma is somewhere smiling and marveling at everything. She may not be here in the flesh but she is always here in spirit! I will always love you grandma!

June 2019
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