I found myself seated around the patio table in Grand Junction, Colorado with 4 generations of Mitchell’s on Monday night. The stop back through on the way to Des Moines found another uncle and my grand parents relaxing in the dry and breezy comfort of a late summer evening in the west. The kids scrambled around executing a much needed energy burn off while we caught up.
The details of the gathering aren’t so important. What is important is that our children, the 4th generation present that day…have a burned in image of that place…and those people. Also, what’s important is that word…Family.
The word Family has always meant "Mom and Dad" to me. You see my dad was in the vanguard, charting course for our family early in life by moving us out of the world he knew and into the wild blue yonder of Southern CA after a 4 year term in the Marine Corps. Sure we saw family here and there…but honestly I can count the number of times I’ve seen most uncles…cousins…and even Grand Parents with my digits (no toes required). That independence from "family" has been passed to me…for better or worse.
Now, it’s my turn to make choices about how important family is to my brood. It’s a balancing act no doubt and my wife thankfully reminds me of that often. It seems that the rogue Captain’s gene hath been passed…witnessed by the voyage of the good ship Mitchell…plotting its own course…arriving at a nice plot of land in the Middle West after a lifetime of Southern California relationship building.
However, that explorer gene is tempered by an understanding that family relationships…especially those cultivated and grown give a sense of perspective and depth to life. I think that hit me as my uncle walked me through "the family history picture wall". I stood there viewing pictures I’ve actually seen before of my father’s father’s father’s father and I realized how much of what I am….is them. I’m an amalgam of DNA probably mutated here or there but I can sense a certain spirit and ethos that has been sent down through the gene sequence over generations . (If I’m not careful here I’ll start to sound like Patten). The bottom line is that I will do my best to inspire that sense of family in my offspring with the guidance and leadership of my wife. And…even If I’ve not really been a "family man" thus far in life, there’s still time to change that for my kids.
Thank you family for hosting a marvelous evening of food, fun, and family.