I just returned from a rather lengthy trip to Utah. Not under the time constraints that usually keep my visits with my family short, I was able to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and have come up with a few conclusions, and of course a few questions.
First, not to my surprise, but much to my delight, I reaffirmed my belief that there are very few worries, ills, and emotional pains that cannot be quickly cured by repeated loves, maulings, and sticky kisses of guileless, exuberant, and utterly devoted nieces. My little chunky-muffins think I am pretty much the coolest aunt in the world, due to my ability to cackle like an evil witch, give them horsey rides, bounce them on my feet, and dance like a maniac to the electronic disco track on their keyboard. I was rewarded with endless tight embraces, wet smoochies and, due to a recent "doggy" phase, the occasional lick. Family can apparently bring you a peace and joy unparalleled anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with the adults too, but when the attention comes from the kids, it’s just heavenly.
Second, everytime I go home…despite the minor annoyances that come from adult children interacting with adult parents…I am struck by the fact that my parents’ home is a safe haven. I’m world-wise enough to know that not every child has that safe haven, and I’m grateful to my parents for their steadiness and committment to the gospel in providing it.
Third, ward family may be a cliche, but I was struck by the way the ward rallied around my family. My widowed aunt lives with my 98 year old grandma next door to my parents. One night, my aunt became really ill, and had to go to the hospital to get rehydrated. Someone in the ward drove down the street in the middle of the night and saw the ambulance at their house, and within minutes, the entire neighborhood was up, knocking on doors, calling the bishop at youth conference, and trying to call my parents on their new cell phone (which they have unfortunately not figured out how to answer yet.) At church on Sunday, neighbor after neighbor stopped to express their love and concern to my quiet little unassuming Norwegian grandma. From this family member 2000 miles away, I’m incredibly grateful that she has some family members out there keeping such a close eye on her.
Fourth, I reconnected with so many old friends. There is my college roommate, who despite living on the other coast, and despite her mothering duties for three extraordinarily active children, has had my back for thirteen years. I had time to fly to Seattle and visit her and reaffirm that she’s essentially a sister, albeit one I see far too seldom. I saw all my high school friends, and we had long talks about boys and babies and memories and gossip. We’re all dealing with our very different adult lives, but 20 years of shared experiences keeps us close and still praying for each other. Thank goodness for email.
Finally, and much to my delight, I found out that my grandfather was ordained to the Melchezidek Priesthood by J. Golden Kimball. Apparently, and according to an article in Dialogue, he was a close family friend. So much is clear to me now. I’m not a freak…writing for BCC was my destiny!!!
So, here are my questions…we speak so much about families being together forever, but I’m a little unclear on what that family is going to look like. Do we essentially all pair off, with the odd single child glommed onto his/her parents by default? Do we stay in giant family communes? That would seem unwieldy, I want to be with my grandma, but she would want to be with he grandma, who I don’t know…and who knows, might not like? This could go on forever. I know we shouldn’t be dreaming about mansions above, but mine is a procreating family, and we’re going to need a mansion…a really really big one. Are our eternal families limited to family…if our ward families sacrifice so much for each other, wouldn’t those bonds naturally continue in heaven as "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven"? Also, heaven wouldn’t be heaven without those friends who act in all capacities as family. Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without Miss Seattle laughing at my jokes and making me pancakes. Besides, if friends come to visit, then apparently I’ll get to hang out with J. Golden Kimball when I go up to grandpa’s room to visit. That really sounds like heaven.