It was a beautiful sunny day where the end of summer touches the early turn of fall. We packed ourselves into the van for the drive into the country to visit Papa D and Great Grandpa to do our annual pear picking. We coasted along roads that float for miles over the prairie before us, beneath clouds that go only where the winds take them. The city behind us seemed small and insignificant.
Somehow, this mixture of sunshine, open spaces, and the limitless expanse of time before us had once again turned me into a great philosopher. My chest swelled with matters of the heart. I began to ponder the age old questions of who we are and where we came from. How as a people we become so engrossed in moving forward in life that we forget the reason we are here in the first place.
We pulled into the driveway and the children spilled out of the van, unable to resist the push and pull of the spirit, mind and body in the freedom of the great wide stretch before them. Spending an afternoon in the country, we had nothing on our agenda but allowing ourselves just to be.
After the kids released some of their energy, we walked together through the grass. “See that tree over there, kids? That’s your Great Aunt’s tree. She planted that as a girl when it was just a little tiny thing.”
The children gazed up at the strong, broad tree that seemed to reach its branches up to her in heaven.
“See those steps right there? Those were the original steps to the old farm house. The house that your Great Great Grandparents lived in, right here, on this land. And after that, your Great Grandpa and your Great Grandma. And then your Great Aunt and Uncle and your Papa D. Daddy came here often, and now so do you.”
We walked along further. “See that fence in the field? Your daddy helped build that when he was a boy. The fence that kept the llamas in. You had to be careful or they’d spit in your eye! And the chickens lived over there to the west. Great Grandma would feed them every day and sometimes come back with eggs!”
I listened quietly to this dialogue as the children sat down and dug in the dirt. All the while, I knew these stories my husband was sharing with our children were more than just stories. They are a part of the fabric of my children’s being. They help them understand the importance of the family and where they came from. They are a family narrative that builds a sense of confidence in our children and anchors and strengthens their identity. And I can’t help but smile at how the country air always turns me into such a sap.
“What about that basketball hoop, Daddy?”
“Your Daddy and cousins would shoot hoops until dark out here. And ride our bikes for what seemed like forever. Those were some good times.”
And that’s how the day went. We nourished our souls with fresh air, time spent together, and a simple memory and a family story intertwined here and there.
Do you make time to tell your children or younger relatives your family narrative? Try sharing pieces of your family story with them as you go about your daily life.