I’ve been thinking a lot about family these past few weeks, months even. There are rocks in the stream of our brood. But lately, thankfully, there are increasing stretches of smooth paddling.

My older brother, Peter, moved away to Lake Las Vegas a couple of years ago and is newly married there. My younger brother, Michael, moved to North Carolina with his wife a couple of weeks ago. Both of my brothers used to live virtually next door to me. Now, they’re hundreds and even thousands of miles away.

Mary, my only sister, is still nearby, for which I’m very grateful. If you’ve read my memoir, you witnessed the two of us at the eye of the hurricane that blew our nuclear family apart.

Nettie and I have two boys as most of you know, Miles and Graham, and now Jaymie is our new daughter-in-law married to Miles. We suspect, like all parents, that grandchildren are somewhere downstream, perhaps around the next bend.

Family…it expands, it contracts. It brings pain; it brings joy. It is life.

On Friday, I visited Graham, which has lately been a rather rare treat. We took a walk around Echo Park Lake. The day was glorious. A cool summer’s day. A restful sanctuary in the middle of a strident metropolis.

We talked about this and we talked about that. Family was still at the heart of my thoughts throughout our chat.

Family…where is its locus? How do Nettie and I connect to it now that our boys are men with their own lives, one with his own wife? My brothers, far away, now are visitors at best, once a year or two.

I know I have to let go of my need to hold family so close, to hold it tightly as if I could suspend it out of time, unchangeable, forever what it was in the past. Silly to hang on I said to myself as Graham and I walked past the lovely lilies at the far end of the lake.

Then I saw it. In a single image. The image of family that floats in the center of my stream.

There are three ducks in the shade, literally in the shadow of their mother. But if you look closely, you will see there are two in the bright light of their own sun.

I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I see that now clearly.

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3 Responses to Just Ducky

  1. Frank Z says:

    Frankie, Frankie, Frankie…

    You’re such a sensitive soul. Your sons are still close by
    if not close to. They are off and running with there own
    lives, as it should be. You’re still Dad, just maybe not
    the authority figure anymore. They are their own authority
    figure now and they get to be responsible for their triumphs
    and failures, hopefully more triumphs. That whole letting
    go thing is rough I admit, but we have to experience it as
    there really is no other choice. I probably feel it more
    poignantly with losing touch with friends, more so than
    family, as I seem to not having gotten that particular gene
    that venerates family above all. I miss my friends from
    basically another time as the years have put distance
    between us both experientially and geographically. The
    ones I have managed to reconnect with seem not as
    passionate as I about this reconnection and that
    causes me some pain, but it is what it is. I recognize
    that time did not stand still for them as well as for me. That
    was then and this is now and the joys and tears we shared
    so many years ago are gone forever…not even an echo
    remains. I cherish most of my memories and realize
    that memories are mostly what remains of a life reasonably
    well lived considering where I started. Anyway, consider
    these ramblings for what there worth, if anything, and
    be happy with the wonderful life you and Nettie have
    created.

    Till the next time,

    Maxwell xxoo

  2. Frank Z says:

    Hey Susanne,

    Thanks for the comment and perspective. Delighted also that you’re a regular reader and enjoying the posts. Give my best to Tim!
    fz

  3. Susanne says:

    As a parent, there is always a tug of the heart strings – it never leaves. 2 on the West coast and 1 on the East…..Always proud, always missed and especially loved! 7 grans.
    I think I did a good job (by myself) in raising them. They are successful adults, going through the glory and pain of parenthood. I’m there when needed otherwise in the shadows smiling. Family, most important…………

    Always delightful to read your post.

    Susanne (Tim’s)[he is home until 8/24 then back to China]

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