My uncle in Houston recently passed away and his funeral was being planned on the same day as a planned trip to Dallas to watch the red headed David Beckham, my five year grandson, Noah, play futbol.
I called my son Matt to check on start times and talk to him about my choices. Should I go see the grandson ply his soccer skills or should I do the right family thing and make the trek to Houston to pay respects?
I wasn’t completely flummoxed, I knew what I should do, I was caught between doing what I wanted to do and doing what was the right thing to do.
Marty was always my go to person when I was dealing with a conundrum, when I wasn’t flummoxed but needed a push in the right direction. Marty had an internal compass to help point the way and she was never reluctant to tell me where to go and how to get there.
The strokes really burned out that compass. She’s a good listener and incredibly supportive of whatever I decide but she is not so much for the advice anymore.
I have a core group of people I turn to when I need to intellectually bounce things around, when I need to check my own moral compass. My daughter is great to talk to about dealing with people. She has her mother’s intuitive approach to humanity.
My daughter-in-law keeps me in line socially; she helps me navigate the rather strange waters of being polite. My son-in-law is the out of the box thinker, the one that sees a different way to approach a problem; he keeps us all from group think.
This one was for Matt, our son. He can be my moral compass. It’s not that he is “better than” or even thinks he is “better than”, he just has his mother’s compass. Like everyone else I know he doesn’t always go where the compass points, but, like his mother he knows where it’s pointing, and, like me, he feels appropriately guilty when he ignores the needle. He is an amalgam of his mother and father.
We talked and I told him my dilemma, which really wasn’t a dilemma; it was a case of want to versus an important need to and I already knew that. He told me a story (that technique sounds vaguely familiar) about Noah, his five year old not wanting to get up for school. The kid likes school, he just doesn’t want to get up and do the morning get ready hustle. Matt told him that sometimes in life we have to do some things we may not want to, but we do them because they are important. Again, it all sounds vaguely familial (not a typo).
Family, my family has become central to Marty and me. In living my very important ego driven pre-stroke life I too often neglected family. I talked a good game but my follow through kind of sucked. That has changed; Marty’s illness has taught me the importance of family.
Sometimes a family fragments when something catastrophic occurs, not mine. My entire family, our kids, their spouses, my parents, my brother, my sister, their kids have all rallied around Marty. They have loved her, they have loved me, and they have unconditionally supported both of us. Marty, in her own way has taught us all about the importance of closeness. She, at least in my mind, has helped me find my family again.
I went to the funeral; I will go to one of Noah’s soccer matches another time. I didn’t go to the funeral because I am a helleva guy, we have covered that before. I didn’t go because of some sense of familial obligation or even because we sometimes have to do some hard things.
I went because Marty taught me the importance of family; I went because, as my little brother said, it’s family. Family is a big deal to me. I admit it wasn’t always so, I now understand why it is a huge deal.
I know what Marty would have told me to do because her legacy, her children told me.