The May 3 birth of my newest grandson, Isaac Matthew Hoyt, and my wife’s consequent absence for about a month recently gave me some time to reflect on what we might hope for in the lives of our children and grandchildren. I have more time to be reflective when the house is empty and I’m forced to entertain myself. Evelyn usually has some specific ideas about how I should be spending spare time.
Our memories of events in our lives are often very different from the recollections of the people we shared them with, but the things we consider to be important tend to be largely the same. We talk about what the children are doing at every family gathering, and there is usually an effort made to take lots of pictures. The older people find it hard to believe the younger ones have grown so much, while the little people focus on some form of physical activity. School and work always generate conversation, which probably shouldn’t be surprising because they make up so much of our lives. We have had a rash of award ceremonies, graduations, and, now, theatrical events in recent times.
Food occupies an important part of our lives and is central to any family event. Memorial Day weekend we celebrated three birthdays with chicken and assorted side dishes, plus the obligatory cakes. Eating is often concurrent with cleaning up, which also provides multiple opportunities to have side conversations. These discussions range from worries about each other to the always popular gossip about family members who are not present.
Family events in my household always seem to require at least one minor tragedy that will be discussed for years to come. Recent injuries include a broken collarbone and facial stitches when the rubber end-cap of a baseball bat came off while the children were bashing a piñata and hit my son just under his lip. I don’t know if every family feels obligated to race motorcycles, jump on trampolines, play football, or bash piñatas; but I’m sure many of us can relate to doing unsafe things when the family gets together.
Finally, I don’t think you should live in Oregon if you don’t take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this place. I am proud to announce that all of my children and my 14 grandchildren now live in Oregon, where we will camp, hike, fish, and otherwise enjoy this incredible place.
The moral of this column is that the good life is all around us if we choose to live it. It is not a life free of pain, anger, sorrow, or other negative events; but a life filled with people we care about in a place we can call home.