January 1, 2012

what I learned in 2011: the importance of family

Written on 12/22/11
So, I’m on my flight headed home for Christmas. I’m flying to Atlanta. Will be there for two days to spend time with my dad’s side of the family and then heading to Chattanooga on Christmas Eve to be with my mom and her side of the family. It’s a lot of back and forth, but that’s how I know it to be. Just recently I have come to understand the meaning and importance of family. I don’t know what took me so long, maybe it’s the fact that I’ll be turning 30 in a couple of weeks or more importantly that my grandmother passed away on December 6, 2011.  Death has a way of making things so final and you realize that your time is limited.  As I reflect on the past year lots of terrible events have happened, but I am thankful for so many things and feel better than ever about where things are heading.

For the funeral, of course, I flew down to Georgia that week (as did all of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, every single one). I just saw my parents for Thanksgiving. That experience definitely changed our family dynamic. I truly enjoyed spending time together as a family. Although the circumstance was not ideal, I was happy to be with my family. We drove to Quitman, GA from Atlanta (4 hours) and that’s a drive that we took many times growing up. And I couldn’t remember the last time we were in the car together. We chatted, joked, complained, ate, listened to music, and slept, all the things you do in car, although mundane, it brought back a lot of memories for me. Quitman is a small, rural town. Very southern. Everyone knows everyone. There, cows and horses roam freely; there are dirt roads, and fields upon fields. Very few light posts, so when it’s nighttime, the sky is pitch black and you can see every star. This still amazes me. I spent many summers there, sometimes just me and I would stay with my grandparents and other times with my brothers and cousins. I learned how to drive there. It was the perfect place for kids to play, get into a little trouble, and feel safe. Now, I’m so happy that I have these memories. I am lucky that I got to spend so much time with my grandparents. I am lucky that I will have stories to pass on and hopefully will share with my children one day. I am lucky that while I live in Manhattan, I can look back at my roots and know where I came from and that I have come so far. I am lucky because of all of those people who came before me. Who sacrificed. Who struggled and carried on. Who did the best that they could with what they had. I know where my strength, courage, and fight come from. That gusto is what drove me to move to New York right after college without an apartment, job, or friends. I think I lost a little bit of it along the way, but my goal for 2012 is to channel that source of energy and apply it to every aspect of my life. The outlook is exciting from where I’m sitting.

Wishing you a happy, prosperous, and love-filled New Year!

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