I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the people who have affected my life over my 74 years.
My parents, of course, were primary. But they’re both in heaven now. And they moved away from where we lived way back in 1970, I believe it was, so contact with them was intermittent for the rest of their lives. Still, so much of the foundation of my life, my beliefs, attitudes and opinions were formed by their own. Mostly, that was a very good thing.
There was a family that took us into their own family circle. I thought they really were my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. I was SO unhappy when I figured out that they weren’t, but it certainly didn’t change the joy of spending time with them, of being loved and loving them in return. One of the “aunts,” Lois Sanders, led me to Jesus in her Sunday School class when I was only five. I’d say that’s an eternal influence.
Sibling, of course. I was the younger of two for a long time, but when I was 14 my parents announced that there would be a baby in September! Sadly, he died when he was only 49. He was only six when Mom and Dad moved away, so there was always a lot of distance between us. Still, he has his place in my heart.
We moved a lot when I was growing up, so lasting childhood friendships were rare. Terry and I married in 1969, and along the way we have found wonderful, lifelong friendships with people who are more like family than just friends. Some of them were here last night to celebrate a family birthday. Lots of fun, and very precious memories.
Our children, of course, are daily visitors to my mind. They are scattered. Three sons live from South Dakota to England to Germany. Our daughter and family are the only blood relations nearby, about 30-40 minutes away. Their spouses, their children, are all in my heart. We love them all dearly. I think having adult children is a reward!
I never lived close to either set of grandparents, something I have often regretted. On my dad’s side, I have cousins who did grow up near out mutual grandparents, and knew them well. We don’t see much of each other, but there is a bond that makes it easy to be with them on the rare occasions when we meet.
It’s been six or seven years ago, I think, since my youngest uncle and his wife were driving through our area. We met them at a restaurant and enjoyed several hours reconnecting with them. My uncle is my dad’s youngest brother, born when Dad was all grown up. There is certainly a resemblance, and I probably made him uncomfortable because I had a hard time not to stare at his familiar face :).
There have been outstanding pastors in my life. There have been memorable teachers who encouraged me to expand my abilities in areas that are still important to me today.
There are friends of 50+ years’ standing, and newer friends in the church we now attend who have blessed us with their openness and concern when I’m dealing with my back issues–which are under control for the time being :).
People need other people. God Himself created us for His own pleasure. Friends and family enrich us, help us grow, keep us accountable, surprise us and sometimes irritate us to no end, but we wouldn’t trade any of them.
The friends who are the most important are the ones who love the Lord, and who share that love freely. They encourage me to do the same, by their example.
The ones we share life experiences with, that we can laugh or cry with, that we have been with through their own dark time–they are rare and precious jewels. We are blessed in our family and friends.