June 30, 2015

Monthly Musings with Marc - June

Family Connections

Loyalty was expected from me at an early age. Growing up a military brat made me cherish and protect everyone and everything around me, especially my family. As one of my high school teachers and coaches used to say, "You get what you give."

My wife and I don't want kids, but that doesn't mean we don't want family. We think of, pray for, and talk to family as much as possible when living on the other side of the world. We try to make ourselves available to family and friends in any and all ways. We rely on our family for help and insight as we go through life. 

When circumstances changed right before our trip to the East Coast, my aunt opened up her home and gave us her bed for a few extra nights in New York City. My sister willingly gave us her car and apartment while she visited Europe. When things looked murky and unsettled, family was there for us.

Family I had never even met before gave us tickets to the Yankees game and housed us on the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Family I had not seen in 20 years, and Christy had never met, opened their doors with huge smiles, warm hugs, and great stories.

We tried to meet up with my grandpa and grandma in New York and New Jersey, but it could not happen this summer because of health issues. Instead, my grandpa made a couple of calls and introduced me to a cousin that works for the Yankees - crazy! My other cousin from NYC, my wife, and I walked into a VIP section of Yankee Stadium to get our tickets. We sat in incredible seats and watched A-Rod come within two hits of 3,000. Thanks to family, we had a free evening at Yankee Stadium! 

My grandpa's surprises didn't end there. For years, I've been told about family members from Spain. They not only exist, they are awesome! Christy and I really wanted to meet them to hear about my cultural background and to gain insight into Spain. Miguel and Rosa did not disappoint. They gave us a great weekend in their home on the Jersey Shore and told us great stories about family in Spain. Now we have even more reasons to return to Spain.

The best was getting to see my Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe. Both are in their 90's and still as sharp as tacks. I haven't seen them since I first visited New Jersey when I was 12 years old. Neither had ever met Christy, yet when we knocked on their door, they welcomed us in with unparalleled enthusiasm. As they are definitely the patriarch and matriarch of my family, it was great to see them again and introduce them to Christy. My great-great aunt lived up to Italian family legend by taking Christy aside and, while tapping her cheek, handed her some cash and said in her classic Jersey accent, "Money is always good to you."

It's an amazing feeling to know that no matter how far away you go, or how long you're gone, family is always around the corner and ready to welcome you home - all over the world.