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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Express Yourself

My dreams are so incredibly poignant and real. I awoke this morning with such mixed emotion. I had a dream last night that I was having dinner with my four grandparents and my parents. My Mother is the only one that is still alive among those six people. We were having dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Hudson Valley. It was a place that I had never been to but I recall being in awe of the beauty of the river view and the mountains. It was a place of peace with a beauty that was breathtaking.

We were having a great time and I was asking my grandparents to tell me all about my parents- when they were young. I wanted to know how they behaved and who they had crushes on. I wanted to know if my Grandparents were tough on my parents and I asked how they felt when my Mother introduced my Father and vice versa. I got a kick out of the stories that were told and the memories that were recounted with enthusiasm. In my dream, I could smell the bread that was brought to the table and I sat next to my favored Grandmother, Edith.

I was always close with her and favored her among my two grandmothers. She was affectionate with me and interested in anything that I did or said. She wanted me to stay with her all the time and she lit up whenever I called her. Her nickname for me was Michelly and we loved to go shopping together. She was always concerned that my other Grandmother would sense my favoritism. They were so different- One was so affectionate and always smiling while the other was wonderfully sweet but had a tough side to her. She favored my brothers and that was obvious. She used to bake cookies and send them to my brothers while they attended boarding schools. She raved about the boys and her adoration of them was more than obvious. My father was an only child and perhaps having a male child influenced her relationship with males. I know that she loved me but she was critical of me in a manner that I did not see with my brothers.

I continued to visit her my entire adulthood and in fact often drove from Boston to Albany. It was wonderful for both of my grandparents and I enjoyed my visits as well. I learned to appreciate the biting remarks of my Grandmother and actually found humor in her delivery. Thankfully my former husband was more than happy to head up there on a Sunday. He was easy-going so it was never an issue and I think my Grandparents antics in fact gave him good material for his radio show.

The understanding and knowledge that you can learn from your grandparents or older relatives is priceless. I love attending family functions although I wish my relatives lived closer. Many of them are in the Hudson Valley and as I child, I often wished that I lived there. Connecticut seemed so far away and I delighted in the thought of being able to hang out with my cousins on a daily basis. Our extended family was never in the same county.

Im happy to say that I do have relatives in Danbury that I would like to invite over this summer. Facebook has been a wonderful tool in keeping in touch and nurturing relationships with cousins that I never see. Im so excited about that as I can see that we have so much in common and our children are similar in age. I think relationships with family are priceless.

Last month, my close friend Mona had a death in her family. Her first cousin died unexpectedly and she was grief stricken. He was a very young man and was a well-loved, respected, intelligent family-oriented person. His vibrant life touched everyone and although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, it was more than obvious that he was a great man. The love and grief of his family was overwhelming. The most touching thing from my perspective was the enormity of the support of the extended family. Mona comes from a very close Middle Eastern family. They are intelligent, generous, kind-hearted successful people who have a tight knit family. She has the good fortune of having parents who are alive and well and many other elderly relatives that are still active. There were so many people at his wake. So many family members that could not even speak as they were in shock and despair over his death.

A family united in grief is always sad, yet there is a beauty about the closeness of family that always impresses me. It is apparent at happy occasions but more striking to me during the sad events in life. We don't adore every member of our family, however family is a gift to be treasured.

My dream brought back the family members that I long to see and speak with. They are alive in my heart, in my spirit and in my home. I often speak with my Father as if he were right in front of me. The loss of each of these individuals has left an emptiness in my heart that is enormous. However, I feel blessed that I have had the great fortune of having them as my grandparents and my father. How lucky to have met such wonderful, intelligent and loving people who all shared the same blood. They have taught me innumerous lessons and values that I now pass on to Christopher and Giavanna. They have taught me how to love and how to persevere. They taught the importance of family and the loyalty that one must have in regard to family.

I always tell my friends to appreciate that there parents are alive. I encourage them to express themselves. I have written a letter to each of my grandparents and my father at some point expressing myself to each of them. I wrote of my gratitude for all that they have done for me. I have no regrets as they all died with the knowledge of my love. To me, nothing is more rewarding or peaceful than this when you lose someone close to you.

As Madonna says- express yourself- if you don't do it today, tomorrow will be too late and the days after that will be filled with regret. If you don't want to speak it than write it or paint it. As long as the message is received it makes no difference of the method of delivery. The message is truly all that matters and the expression will make all the difference to you and to the recipient. When my children ask me what I want from them for Mother's day or my birthday- I tell them to write me a letter. Nothing could be more meaningful to me.

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