In 1952 I was blessed to be born into a loving, caring and teaching family. For several years our extended family, two grandmothers, and a grandfather lived in our home. I have been thinking of my birth family often this past month.
Since my early twenties, I have been “on my own”, living far from all of them. I have always been a bit of a wanderer and decided early to use my career, as an RN to travel and live in different parts of the United States. After living for three to five years in each place, I would pick a new place, get a job and move. I settled in southern California. I obtained my Masters in Holistic Health Education, and at the end of five years, just as I was getting ready to move on, I met Jim, my friend, partner, lover and husband and settled into the San Diego region.
Jim died in 2012, and in June of 2013, I bought my RV and my life as a nomad began again. The house is now sold and I live in my RV full time. It is small and comfortable and for right now it is home. I have traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada and have embraced this lifestyle to the best of my ability.
Although I have had curiosity and fondness for everywhere I have visited or traveled, I return again and again to the desert southwest and anywhere from the Rocky Mountains and west. I love the wide-open spaces, the quiet, the stillness and the breathtaking moments of awareness.
Enter the Coronavirus and I am in San Diego. I am staying with good friends. I am recovering from treatment for thyroid cancer. Cynthia is recovering from foot surgery. We are all helping each other. I have stayed in touch with my local San Diego friends thanks to Zoom and Facetime. We have been doing driveway meetups, practicing the art of virtual hugs (not as good as the real thing) and sitting at least six feet apart. It has helped to break the isolation that my solo friends are experiencing. I have a strong and good family of friends.
Since I have been sheltering in place, I miss my birth family. Despite our differences, I miss the family I was born into. My sisters live in different places, one in northern New Jersey, and one in Ohio. I know they do not live close but they seem to be in reaching distance of each other. I am not. The three of us have had one Zoom meetup and that has helped. I want to arrange a Zoom meeting with them on an ongoing basis. It is comforting to see them and just sit and chat and listen. My oldest sister and I call back and forth. I look forward to those times when we talk.Families are a big messy affair even if there are only a few siblings. We can argue, we can disagree, we can laugh, share stories, and enjoy moments in time. Even at our worst times, we are still family.
In mid-March, my one niece (in Ohio) gave birth to a beautiful little girl. My NJ sister and I got to meet her, thanks to Zoom. I would love to embrace and hold that little bundle. I would enjoy a hug from family, actually from anyone. My other niece and her daughter, Quinn, live in New Jersey near my oldest sister.
My Ohio niece, Brittany, loves family. She once said to me that if it was up to her she would have a compound of homes and all of her family would live there. She has been instrumental in drawing me back into the lives of my family. I remain grateful to her, for the ability to do this and include all of us.
As I sit here on a gray Sunday morning, my friends are downstairs listening to their church service. One of the hymns I heard wafting upstairs was:
“For the Beauty of the Earth”. The third refrain is the one that struck a chord in me at this moment of time. “For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild. Lord of all to thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.”
Today I am thankful for all my family, friends, strangers and acquaintances. Today I am thankful for recognizing the longing to see and talk to my sisters and nieces. I am glad they are all safe and sheltered in place. I am thankful to be able to reach out over the miles and remind myself to be very thankful for a loving and strong birth family.