What Time Is It?
It’s family time! Let me apologize outright if your mind is now contaminated with that awful Ziggy Marley song.
My aunt Sherry and uncle Pete are my only maternal family members that live in the area, so we’re blessed to see them on a fairly regular basis. Tomorrow we’ll enjoy the company of my cousins and other aunts who are traveling about 150 miles to visit. One of those cousins, Dusty, is another one of my favorite people in the world. Yes, I have quite a few favorites, but there are infinitely more people who I could completely do without. Really, people in general bother me. Someone once described me by saying, “It’s not that you dislike people, it’s just that you don’t need them.” In many ways, I think that’s true. It’s also true that I need to work on my compassion and overall interest in the human race.
But I digress. Dusty is three years older than me and the closest I’ve ever come to having a brother. We used to build bubble forts out of bedsheets and a box fan (20-some years before the idea was trending on Pinterest). We pretended to be Ghostbusters while running and jumping on Papaw’s platform trailer and traipsing around the farm. We played basketball (or, rather Dusty did and I got frustrated because I stunk at it) and video games—Dusty was the first person I knew with a Super Nintendo! We wrote pen-pal letters to one another, talking about our dogs and school and our next visit.
And then we started to grow up. Sitting and yapping with the grown-ups replaced going outside to play. Awkward silence, rather than raucous laughter, became commonplace. Outside of general conversation with the family, I’m not sure Dusty and I talked more than a total of ten minutes for about a decade.
When our grandpa died in 2004, we grew up some more. There wasn’t anybody I looked to more for strength than my big cousin. Though I have three other cousins on that side of the family, Dusty was the one that I felt could best relate to my hurt. I’m not sure what changed, but shortly after Papaw’s death, Dusty and I started talking again. We facebook one another, we text, we talk, it’s great!
Back on Memorial Day of this year, we thought we might lose Dusty. He had a nasty accident on his tractor and was life-flighted. I cried an awful lot that day, unsure if we should head to the hospital, unsure if we’d ever see him again. That day convinced me that we can’t take family for granted. So many happy memories to reflect on, no guarantee of tomorrow. Happily, to see him now, you’d never know Dusty had sustained injuries that literally put him in mortal danger.
So it is now with Pete’s illness; I look to Dusty as someone who can understand my heartache. I cry, unsure how much longer we’ll have with Pete, how much longer we’ll get to enjoy laughter-filled family gatherings. But I reflect on the happy memories, trust that we’ll have at least tomorrow to all be together again. And I resolve to not take family for granted.