Saturday, December 11, 2010


"Hi, sweetheart. We've got some news. Grandpa just died."
"Oh, really? Dang. I thought that was going to happen tonight."

I had just been awoken at 4 am by my mother. My dads father had just passed away. Earlier in the day I had said my good byes via phone. Although he couldn't talk back to me, due to his situation, my dad assured me he heard what I said.
I haven't always been a family person and I especially haven't been big on blogging about them either. I am not a fan of "mom blogs", something about bragging to the world about my family doesn't seem right to me. I am hoping to not brag about them in this post. I just want people to know why I think family is so important.
I didn't grow up close to my extended family. Living in Japan while the rest of them were scattered around the US made seeing all of them at once impossible. I went five years at a time without seeing cousins or grandparents so to me, the idea of having cousins as close as brothers or sisters still takes some getting use to for me.
In September I took a job in Salt Lake City. With little money to my name I asked my aunt and uncle who live in Salt Lake if I could stay with them for a few weeks. I offered to camp in their backyard so I wouldn't intrude on them but my aunt and uncle insisted I stay in the house, in a huge bed. Living with them for a month I was awarded the chance to get to know my cousins like I hadn't been able to in past years. Hanging out with husbands, holding babies, playing games and swapping stories. I spent my evenings talking my Aunts head off, asking my uncle questions about my mothers side of the family, and piecing together, in my mind, the years I wasn't present in their life. I thumbed through photo albums in the bookshelf in my room, looking at birthdays and baptisms, proms, and weddings. "This is what their life was like while I was in Japan." I often thought during one of the many late nights I spent pouring over photographs.
When I found a place to live, I realized I wouldn't be able to spend as much time with them when I moved into my new home. Yes, they would still be in Salt Lake but it's not like I could, on a whim, call them and say, "Tell me about your childhood and going to the cabin."
Being able to get to know my mom's brother's family and the passing of my grandfather has made me realize how short our time with these people is. I can't continue to say, "I have tomorrow to say hello to the people that really matter in my life." Truethfully, we only have today.


Gina said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa, but I thank you for writing your thoughts.

I think for kids like us, who have lived overseas practically our whole lives, becoming a family person isn't exactly easy.

Despite having my mom's side of the family, I know what you mean about not really knowing the family.

With my dad's family, we visited them I think 2 or 3 times, and then both of his parents died, I was almost finished with high school, etc. It was weird, I'll admit hanging out with the family like that. The last time I visited WI, I went by myself- it was akward but I made the most of it (considering my grandma ended up in the hospital the same night I arrived).

But on my mom's side- we were really close growing up.. and then I hit middle school and slowly that closeness just dissipated. I just feel weird every time I visit them, even though I know I shouldn't because hell, they are family after all.

Sure, it sucks being thousands of miles away but think of all the stories you get to tell your cousins and aunts and uncles about your life living outside of the US.


BTW- I miss home and hanging out with all my buds.

christa said...

I feel you. I almost started crying during this post because my grandmother passed away in July. I love the childhood I had, with all the traveling and the multi-culturalism that has made me into a very tolerant and open-minded adventurous adult. But I really miss my family. My parents & sister have always been here, but I've had to learn about most of my relatives from different timezones (and often, different continents). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of those people who have big-family Christmases and multi-generations nearby.

It feels weird because I've always WANTED to be a part of a big family, and to be able to walk to my aunt's house, or have dinner with my cousins, but unless I get a lot of money somehow, that won't be possible because the distance between all of us is so huge. It makes me sad to think of all the stories I'll never hear, and all the memories I'll never be a part of.

Thinking of you <3

Moudi said...

I'm sorry to hear that Christy :( I hope you are feeling better.

punkinpants said...

Gina and Christa, I am so happy both of you commented on this(Moudi, your comments are loved, don't worry) because I grew up with both of you in Japan.
Living in Utah, where seemingly EVERYONE has their multigenerational family living next door, I have felt like an outsider. No, my Mom and Dad don't live down the block from my great, great, great grandparents and my uncle.
It is nice to know that there are other military people who feel the same way that I do. I wouldn't trade my experiences growing up, or my friendships with people like you guys for all of the multigenerational Christmas paries in the world. But I am glad we all feel the same way about family. Love you guys.

kayeNjay said...

Love the post...and love having you close by. It was always so weird growing up not knowing my cousins that lived in Japan. It's nice to have you around. Stop by our house (or my parent's house) sometime. We can chat about my glory days in High School : ) . You'll feel like you never missed a beat!