My grandparents began their marriage sharing a small prairie ranch house with my grandpa’s parents about an hour outside of Sturgis, South Dakota. Four children joined the family in that tiny house before they eventually moved the family into their own home in Sturgis.
My grandparents added more children to that house on Baldwin street, but never had much in the way of material possessions. What they did have in abundance was love.
Love is Kind
That unconditional love wasn’t reserved for blood relatives. If you were lucky enough to be taken in by the family through marriage or friendship, you experienced it.
Anyone who could stomach my grandma’s cooking was welcome to stay for dinner. Anyone needing a place to crash could occupy a couch or a place on the floor. Holidays were always big celebrations—sometimes requiring tables borrowed from the church hall to accommodate family and friends. Wisdom and good-natured teasing was dispensed during card games of Cribbage and Oh, Hell.
The affection that poured out of my dad’s family changed other families. People learned how to hug and say “I love you,” even when they hadn’t been raised that way. And they went on to hug their kids and show them tenderness. Others learned what loving relationships looked like and sought ways to repair broken ones.
This year has tested our family. Within five months, we lost both my dad and my grandmother—two people who insisted on hugs and letting you know how much they cared.
And it is hard. So hard.
Love is Patient
We will forever miss the love of dad and grandma, but we have been overwhelmed with people loving us through our loss.
Love is like glue. It oozes into all the broken crevices and holds things together.
Our family picture keeps changing with time because of losses and additions, but love binds us. New generations readily give hugs, are quick to say “I love you,” and invite their friends to be part of the family. The tables are still long at our gatherings. The wisdom and teasing are still dealt out with the cards.
If you ever worry that you aren’t enough, that you aren’t doing enough for your kids, that your loving them isn’t enough, let me assure you—loving your family is the most important thing. Loving the people your kids bring home is the most important thing. Just loving others is the most important thing.
It may not feel like much, but it will impact generations.