I recently joined my adult children and their families on a wonderful trip to the Oregon Coast. This is a remarkable achievement for me because I have two brothers within a day’s drive of my home and we would rather eat rancid snot than spend an hour with each other.
I haven’t seen my older brother in 17 years, and now I wonder if I could convince a reality show to sell lucrative sponsorships to bring us together. He would do that for the money. My younger brother would just ask, “So, why do you want to get together, anyway?”
My parents were strict, hard-working farmers who couldn’t be bothered with family vacations or sibling relationships. My father started each day at 6:00 am by blaring John Philip Sousa marches throughout the house, pounding on our bedroom doors, and hollering, “Get up. Time is money!” That explains my uncontrollable eye twitch every time I hear “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
My dad was a brilliant businessman who worked from poverty to riches, but he lost his family along the way. After he died young, my brothers banded together to acquire his abundant estate. It was a scene from the final chapter of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I attempted to protect my mother’s finances and so my older brother, a lawyer, sued me. I won the suit and was awarded a court order against him. Consequently, there have been no laughing, loving vacations to the coast.
My brother has never met my husband or my children’s spouses or their children. That is an enormous loss for him because my kids are fabulous and have the lives I always wanted for them. They love each other, and their children are close cousins. It’s like The Waltons – the old television show not the billionaire family with all the stores.
Last week I watched my children and their families scamper along the beach, learn about whales, throw nets to catch crabs, hike through an enchanted forest, and sit around a campfire. The parents introduced clam chowder to their five children, jostled diapers and dogs in a rented recreational vehicle, and explored new vistas along the coast. Best of all, they laughed together. And then they eagerly planned the next family vacation.
I can’t change my past or make my brothers arrive at my door with a baked turkey and a pie. Well, not without a food taster. But I can move forward with gratitude that my children broke my family’s tradition of tense animosity. And, if either one threatened a law suit, the other would just laugh and bring out some snacks and adult beverages. In one respect, my father was correct. Time is money, as long as it’s time spent together as a family. My grandchildren are rich, indeed.