Thursday, June 3, 2010
I've been working on my family history lately. I have this need to know where and who I come from. Family is very important to me. I am fortunate that I come from a close family. I grew up spending summers with my grandparents in the country. My brother and I practically grew up with my two uncles and aunt, who were 10 and 8 years older. I took for granted all the family dinners with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and assorted friends and family who would join us. Now family dinners are usually my parents, my husband, myself, and our children. Occasionally we do have more relatives join us, but my brother and his family live in Massachusetts so we don't get together often, but those times are very special. My brother is probably one of the funniest people I know along with my son and my grandfather. They are so similar in personality that it is scary sometimes, but I am comforted that my grandpa's sense of humor continues on. I can't imagine what the world would be like without it.
I have never met the woman in the picture above holding the baby, but she has influenced how I view life and family more than any other person. She is my grandmother Betty Emrich and she's holding my mom. She died when my mom was 15 when the car she was driving was struck by a train while she was crossing the tracks. The signal had been activated on the wrong track and the tracks ran through the town obscuring the view of the oncoming train. It was a tragic accident. She left behind my grandpa, my mom, and my aunt who was 11 at the time. She was such a mystery to me growing up. I had heard snippets here and there, but I never felt I knew enough. My Aunt Eleanor told me that I looked like her. I figured she had great sense of humor because she married my grandpa. I also knew that she was the love of my grandpa's life even though he remarried. I guess that's all I need to know.
Her life and death has shaped who I am as a parent. I've loved my kids as though I could be gone any day. Life gets in the way sometimes and we get busy, but we can't lose sight of the things that are important. The day she died, my grandmother and my mom were playfully teasing my aunt. When the girls left for school, my aunt was so mad, she wouldn't say goodbye. That was the last time my mom and aunt saw her and there was no hug and kiss and "I love you." It breaks my heart to know that my aunt has had to live all these years with that regret.
That is Betty's life lesson for me. Live life like it is your last day. Love like it is your last day. No regrets.