I had lunch with my brother today. “No big deal,” you might say. Actually, it IS kind of a big deal. Until recently my brother and I have lived in different states, probably for the last 33 years. And now he lives 15 minutes from me. This is an amazing thing. He, his husband, and their nine year old son moved to North Carolina from Texas in February of this year. This was after my parents moved here about 20 months ago, and my daughter and her two precious boys moved here a year ago. And finally our other daughter decided to move back from Ohio about 6 months ago. Literally, two years ago we had very little immediate family living nearby….just one son and his wife. Now we have more people than can fit around my table. Some days we wonder what happened to our quiet life. Most of the time we are grateful beyond measure that at this stage of life we have FAMILY.
That’s not to say it’s all been easy. The dominos started falling in 2017. My parents were some of the unfortunate victims of Hurricane Harvey. After 42 years in their home, they ended up with six feet of water in it for over a week. It was devastating. The only things that survived were “hard” objects: China and silver, ceramic bric-a-brac, kitchen odds and ends, things that couldn’t absorb water or rust. No furniture or bedding survived. Though we dried and kept them, most pictures were ruined. All their personal papers and many mementos of a lifetime together were a total loss. We had celebrated their 60th anniversary just three months earlier. Over 30 family members from near and far came for a wonderful reunion and big party. Little did we know it would be our last major memory in our family home.
At their stage of life and health the best decision was to move them from Texas to North Carolina to be nearer to me. My brother agreed, but before many months he felt the tug to be closer to all of us. We had all been through this tragedy together and somehow it felt wrong for him to be living so far away. After much thought and searching he took a job here in Charlotte right at the retirement center where my parents relocated. He’s an Occupational Therapist and there was a spot for him in the best place possible. I live a 30 minute drive from my parents and I try to see them at least once a week at this point. But my brother can stop in every single day, even if just for a few minutes. It’s absolutely wonderful for them. And I am so very thankful.
In the midst of all the craziness after Harvey, my daughter had her second son. She was living in Florida at the time with the boys’ father. However, unexpectedly, she found that she needed to bring the boys and move nearer to family. She moved to NC when the youngest was 6 weeks old, a very difficult time for her, but a glorious turn of events for this grandmother. My step-daughter came next after years of being away earning a doctorate. And before I could even get my head around all the moving schedules we had four generations within a 25 mile radius! (Including the 3rd grandson by our local child, who was also born last year!)
Which brings me back to something I said in an earlier post….God’s timing. While I could never be happy about what happened to my parents, it set off a chain of events that we could have never expected. My parents get to enjoy their great-grandchildren almost weekly. And I get to reconnect with my little brother in a way we never have in our adult life. God took a terrible situation and led us through it to something wonderful. Absolutely, a pretty big deal.