Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pearl 5: It's a Family Affair

Dearest Gehrig and Eliana,

Good evening, sweethearts.  Do you miss your Grandpa Jud?  I surely miss you both.  By now you have had a chance to meet and visit with your Aunt Brittany, or as we affectionately call her, Aunt Bits.  Brittany, of course, is your mother’s youngest sister and she is a load of fun.  Brittany has a special relationship with her Aunt Patricia, Grandma Vicki’s youngest sister.  They have gone to football games together, traveled to Cabo San Lucas together and every time they are with each other it is like an instant party, even though there is 17 years difference in their ages.  I hope you two have a special relationship with Aunt Bits the way she does with her Aunt, despite a 31 year difference in your ages.

When I was a teenager, I had a special relationship with my father’s younger sister, Aunt Ernestine.  I called her Aunt Ernie and she was the most "together” older person I knew.  She was a school teacher for nearly 50 years and she was very “hip”.  When she would come to visit, there was always a lot of laughter in the house and she made the place light up with her stories and her fertile imagination.  When she visited she would allow me to go out on dates with my girlfriend and use her “air-conditioned” car instead of my car, whose only air-conditioning was accomplished by rolling down all the windows.  She used to say, “You want a ‘hot date’ but not one who is perspiring all over you”.  That kind of leads me to my next "Pearl".

Fifth Pearl:  It’s a Family Affair

Family is so very important.  Whenever you are in need, you can always turn to family.  It is my hope you will never be down and out, depressed or suffer real need, but if you ever do, you can count on your family.  They are the ones most likely to accept you no matter what.  Family will most always support you, even if they don’t agree with you.  Family will always defend you and stand up for you when you need it most.  Family will always love you, unconditionally.

There may be some family members with whom you will become very close.  There may be others who are more distant.  Some families have members who have become famous, or rich, or have distinguished themselves in some significant way.  Got to love those folks.  I am sure you two will fall into that category.  Some families have members who are more infamous than famous.  We call them “black sheep”, but they are still a part of the family.  You can pick your friends, but you are stuck with your family.  In some cultures, family is everything.  La Familia!  In other cultures, family is a necessity for survival, and, in others, just a mere convenience (or inconvenience).  In our culture, family is still very important; more for the emotional and spiritual bonds rather than the economic bonds of a century or two ago.  Family life in America is changing.  Some do not see the value in family the way they used to.  Some people today are accepting of redefining the traditional family.  I believe they are the poorer for it.  You were born into a family that believes in strong family ties and support, both on the Smith and the Hebert side.  You are very fortunate and your lives will be much the richer for it.

So far, your exposure to our family has been rather limited.  You have met your Grandpa Ron and Grandma Kathi, and soon you will meet your Aunt Tracey, your father’s older sister.  You have been introduced to me and your Grandma Vicki, your great Aunt Ruthie and your Aunt Bits.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to say.  Family members from all across the country are anxious to meet you in person.  (They have seen your photographs and agree with us you are both gorgeous and perfect). 

I know you will get a chance to see your great Uncle David Matthews, Grandma Vicki’s younger brother (and his wife April and 2nd cousins Austin, Amy and Kristopher), great Uncle Kenneth, Ruthie’s husband, and their son, your 2nd cousin Patrick, and your great, great grandfather Dan Matthews.  There are a host of other relatives on both the Smith and Hebert sides of the your family and a few on the Hebert side who would love to meet you someday.  In a future letter, I will try to give you a family tree from your mom’s side and I am sure your father or Grandpa or Grandma Hebert will try to provide the same from his side.  I hope you know that even though I am using the word “side”, we all consider ourselves to be from one big new family.  For sure we are all a part of the family of humankind and that is a kinship we need to honor and celebrate.  After all, it is a family affair.

I love you both very much and can’t wait to see you again in a few weeks.  Until then, I pray that God will hold you both in the palm of His loving hand.
Grandpa Jud

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