We stood on the curb waving goodbye as they all drove away, carload after carload, pieces of a beautiful puzzle that forms our big, blended family.
Picture Noah and his wife, after 40 days and nights afloat in a flood, watching the animals hightail it off the ark.
My husband and I share five kids, four who are married, and six grandkids. Some live only minutes away. Others traveled for hours just to spend a few days together as a family.
We kept waving until the last car drove out of sight. Then we went inside, put up our feet and became again just the two of us.
We’re good at being just the two of us. He’s sleeping in front of the TV. And I’m reviewing my favorite moments from the past few days. Here in no special order are some highlights:
• On Thanksgiving day, we went out to dinner, 16 of us, to a restaurant where we were, in my estimation, the largest and best-looking bunch in the place.
• The day after Thanksgiving, I roasted two turkey breasts and made mashed potatoes and stuffing because “everybody” wanted leftovers. Just before dinner, I was wishing we had another pie for dessert and a centerpiece to replace the one that had died on the table. My daughter read my mind, as she often seems to do, and showed up with a fresh centerpiece and an apple pie. And “everybody” said the leftovers were better than the restaurant’s buffet.
• Sam, my husband’s youngest, who’s a graphic designer, gave art lessons to his four nephews and two nieces who drew and colored for hours and formed a fan club for “Uncle Sam.”
• While the kids were drawing, my daughter and daughter-in-law enjoyed a rare chance to talk without interruption. They, too, joined the Uncle Sam fan club.
• We drove by the beach with my oldest and his bride and saw their faces light up as we passed the lighthouse where they were married two months ago.
• I went out to lunch with my new daughter-in-law and we talked about books and babies and other fine things.
• My husband and I offered to host a “movie and pizza night” for the grandkids to give their parents a chance to go out. We had no idea they’d take us up on it. At one point I left Papa Mark watching “Incredibles 2” with the kids while I refilled the popcorn bowl. When I came back, the kids had buried him alive in a pile of pillows and were diving on the pile.
• I played a trick on my youngest, who always loved to play tricks on me. Everyone had gone to bed, except us. I said goodnight and asked him to turn off the lights before he turned in. Then I hid at the top of the stairs. When he flipped off the stairwell lights from below, I flipped them back on. He waited a second, then flipped them off again. And I flipped them back on. We repeated this several times. Lights off, lights on, pause, repeat. Finally, he muttered, “What the ...?” and ran up the stairs to find me. Then we both laughed so hard we woke up the whole house.
• Six-year-old Wiley and I were sitting together (Wiley calls it “cozying”) watching the other kids run wild about the room. He pointed to Archer, who is 2 and seriously cute, and said, “Nana, can I go hug him?”
“Sure,” I said. So he did. And Archer grinned and followed him back to the sofa where the three of us cozied together.
Nothing is happier than a house filled with laughter and love and leftovers. And nothing is quieter than that same house after the family that filled it has said their goodbyes and gone their separate ways.
As my mother would say, we had ourselves quite a time.
We may take a few days (or weeks) to recover. But we’ll treasure the memories of being a family together. And we’ll pray for the strength to do it again.
– Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.