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Apparently I did the right thing this summer by dragging my family, including my elderly aunt and uncle, and very cool nephew, out to Ohio to the caves at Ash Cave State Park, where my great-grandfather carved his name in 1879. It was the right thing to do, to have this special family time together, with the three generations telling the stories of the past and witnessing the physical evidence of our ancestors, and sharing time together, having fun and being a family, despite the fact that it took a monumental effort on my part to arrange it all. Besides finding the carving in the woods, which was so fun I felt compelled to flag down strangers also at the park that day to tell them of this marvel, we looked at the old family homestead, and all the ancient graves together. We stayed in cabins, cooked out and ate dinner together on the screened-in porch, and laughed and learned and spent time in a way I wish I had more of in my life. It was such a wonderful trip, and glad I am today that I made the time and put forth the effort, because, it turns out, that it would be the last time I’d see my aunt.

My aunt came to me fifteen years ago and said she’d like to be better friends, and be more involved in my life and in my kids’ lives, and would we welcome her. My family of origin hasn’t been that interested in family so such a request was a surprise and a delight. Suddenly we could count on her to come to kids’ concerts and shows, and parties and celebrations. She genuinely wanted to be part of our family in a way neither of us had known before. Over the years I came to trust her and count on her to be the one relative who had come to understand the value in relationships, and the value in investing in them despite what came before, and despite what issues had kept us apart until that day fifteen years ago.

She was someone who offered no drama. No issues. Just the hope to be part of the fun of being together. She often brought gifts of wildflowers, plants that will grow in my yard forever and I will share with my friends in her name. She brought with her the lesson that it is never too late to figure out what your priorities really are, and to act on them.

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