These are my in-laws. I've just returned from a 5 day vacation with all of them in Washington DC and it's reminded me of, and created a few questions about how people treat each other and gratitude. You see, I love all these people with every ounce of me, and they love me back. There is a decade age difference between my husband and his youngest sibling. We all have different schooling, jobs, priorities, passions, and opinions, but we all love & respect each other and go out of our way to help each other out and spend time together.
My father-in-law is a Vietnam Veteran. He's not a man of many words to begin with, but he's never talked about it - not even to his wife of 47 years. He is the Papa Bear of this group. He is strong - a farmer for several decades now & likes to work with his hands. They are rough from years of working on things, but his smile is soft, his eyes sparkle when you look directly into them, and his hugs are tight, which I appreciate because I'm a hugger. All of this family respects him as the patriarch of this group.
After deer hunting last fall, my son came home and said that Grandpa had shared a few stories about being in Vietnam & I was shocked. I hadn't ever heard of this before and I've been a part of this family for over 22 years. He didn't share a lot of details, but basically the story goes like this.
My father-in-law was shipped from his base camp to work on an airstrip at another camp. I don't know how long he was there, but at some point, he was done & sent back to his base camp. The next day, the airstrip was completely destroyed by bombing. 24 hours. If he had still been at that camp, he would not have made it back from Vietnam.
Here he is saving the name of a dear friend who didn't make it home.
24 hours and this trip wouldn't exist.
24 hours and I never get to meet the man who has been my best friend & soul mate for the past 25 years.
24 hours and my children - my life - are so very different
24 hours and I never know these beautiful people who are my family
I cry easily. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and people usually know what I'm thinking because it typically pours out my mouth. But as we stand here in this moment, I don't cry. I don't speak. I spectate. I marvel. At the ongoing names on this wall & think about their families, their loved ones, & the loss.
As we continue walking on our tourist trip around DC I begin to verbalize to my sister-in-law how everything could be so very different, and that is when the tears fall. She puts one arm around me and gives me a squeeze as we walk along. This woman who I haven't seen or spent time with in a year & a half yet here we are. She eats vegetarian & runs marathons. I eat venison shot from the field and have marathon TV watching binges. We are both stubborn & opinionated and it's all okay. She is my sister & I love her.
I'm overcome with gratitude. For them, for my husband & children, for a beautiful life and at the same time I'm so saddened by the people who take their families for granted or fight with each other over stupid things.
Why so much of the time do we have to be "against" someone who has a differing opinion? Why do we fight about things that in the end just don't matter? You can't take the money or the material items with you anyway. Is it because of greed or selfishness? You can't be loving and at the same time critical or judgmental. Loving coincides with forgiveness & understanding.
Get to the point of forgiving yourself and loving yourself and filling yourself up with gratitude and joy to the point that it spills out of you and onto those around you. If you need help with learning how to forgive yourself & love yourself more, click here to begin my FREE 10 day ecourse. When you are full up, you can agree to disagree and enjoy one another's company anyway. Being right isn't all it's cracked up to be, and it certainly isn't guaranteed. Two people can have different opinions & both be right. The bottom line is we are all very different. It's what makes life interesting and funny and silly and frustrating and rewarding.
Choose gratitude and love over everything else.
24 hours ~ It can change your life.