Monday, November 22, 2010

Vintage Kinship

I am not a very patient person.

 We belong to an Oregon winery's wine club, and their latest newsletter shared that a wine expert thought that one of their pinot noirs was good, but would be better in ten years or so. OK, I'll most likely be alive in ten years, but waiting for the "better" for almost ten years?
Recently, I waited three whole years to drink a bottle of wine that I had purchased at the winery during my fortieth birthday weekend.  Several weeks ago, I shared that wine with good friends, most of whom I have known twenty years. We savored every last drop of that bottle of wine.
Three whole years of waiting for "better."
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Over thirty-five years ago, I began my friendship with my sister-in-law, Lindsay.  A beautiful, brown eyed girl who had stolen the affection of my brother, Doug. Ten years or so past, and another beautiful brown eyed girl, was wooed by my brother, Bob. Thus, beginning my friendship with my sister-in-law, Jan. Together, we ladies  have shared many of life's markers including weddings, births, and deaths.  Together, we've experienced life's joy, sadness, heartache, pain, met and unmet expectations.
These women knew me as a child and knew me whilst a teenager. When I think no one really knows me, I have lied to myself. These ladies have watched me grow, and with their patience, still love on me.
As I write this, the tears are flowing. Not my intention. It seems I often forget that I am loved. I expect love from others, but often do not "feel" the love. These ladies, these sisters, go out of their way to love on me.
Often, I find it difficult to maintain relationships with my extended family.  Living 100 plus miles away from the majority of my relations make the natural bond of kinship rather labored. I can only "watch" my nieces and nephews "backs" from a distance. I hope my prayers for them to experience the love of Christ, and to live a good life, is a reality for them.
The days and years  have past since I moved away from my family in Portland. Most of the children I left when I went off to college have children of their own. It seems time and distance could only allow me to pop in and out of their lives.  Now, and all too soon, they are starting families, and having babies of their own. Babies, whose names I sometimes forget. Most likely, because I can't be there to watch them grow, to enjoy them, to laugh with them, to pick them up when they fall, to comfort them when they've fallen, and to encourage them to pursue goodness when they falter.
I can only speculate that my sister-in-laws have experienced some of these feelings in their relationship with me, watching me from afar.  I often wish that they lived near me to help me along in life, and I to help them.  I think about the field trip with the grand kids we could go on together. I see where Lindsay could help me design my garden.  I imagine that Jan could teach me (or try to teach me) how to make a pie that might be good enough for someone to request as his or her last meal.
Sometimes, I want desperately for these sort of fancies to be filled. Yet, life's circumstances put limits on these yearnings or expectations.  The miles we live apart, economics, and commitments to our children and husbands keep these expectations from being met. The heart felt question of, "What can I do for you?" is limited to talking on the phone, interacting on facebook, or sending emails.

Both of my sister-in-laws are beautiful on the inside, and out, as they will never be anything but that to me. Perhaps this is me realizing that all along, in their friendship, it's as if I have been given a great wine, that in time, matures into a wonderful, indescribably good fruit that can only be experienced in shared moments that have required much patience.  This sweet aging of our friendship is the "better."