We all experience those circles of life, when there is a beginning, and an ending, that bring to the forefront of our thoughts our hopes and fears, happiness and sadness.
It happened again for me about a month ago.
My joy and hope for the future were at the top of my mind when Debbie and I were invited to the Catholic baptism and Christian blessing of a handsome, young newborn, Jonathan Alexander Ramirez. His parents, Stephanie Hernandez and Rafael Ramirez, asked our son, Preston, to serve as Godfather for their first child.
I know it’s not possible, but Debbie and I felt just about as proud of the responsibility our 22-year-old son was taking on, a responsibility he takes very seriously, as were Jonathan Alexander Ramirez’ grandparents, for the very important responsibility being accepted by Jonathan’s parents.
Jonathan’s parents are two fine young people and with the help of their parents (and Jonathan’s Godparents), I expect nothing but great things for him.
It was less than a week later when I received a call from a cousin, whose job it now was to tell extended family members that her mother, my Aunt Pat, had passed away.
My brothers and sisters and I grew up spending many a holiday with that side of the family, my father’s side, but as we grow older and families grow larger and spread out, those occasions become less and less frequent. That was especially true since my father died in 1980 and as much as my mother tried, those larger family bonds became strained.
And when my mother died a couple of years ago now, the ties to her side of the family also weakened.
Her brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles, stay in touch and we do visit from time to time, even trying to travel for family reunions on occasion. But unfortunately, it will never be the same. When we do make family reunions, much of our visit is reintroducing ourselves to cousins we grew up with, and their families, some of whom we have never met.
That was the way it was, again, when Debbie and I and my sister Becky traveled to Utah for our aunts funeral. Those cousins I had played football with in the mud and snow of Thanksgiving and Christmas so many years ago now have grown children. Some have grandchildren the age we were when we visited on holidays. At least we were all recognizable to each other, no reintroductions were necessary despite not seeing each other very often. But several had traveled up for mom’s funeral, so faces were easily placed with names.
I have several aunts and uncles on my mother’s side with whom I converse fairly frequently, even if it is just a short phone call or text messages on special occasions.
And Debbie and I have vowed we will continue to try our best to visit when we travel through the area. We also plan to make as many family reunions as possible. The Idaho Crompton family was like the lost tribe on both sides. While most of their families settled, and remain, in Utah, ours packed up and settled in Idaho. Not that far apart, but it can easily be 2,000 miles as it is just 200.
So at my Aunt Pat’s funeral, we vowed the same thing with my father’s side of the family. My dad’s brother is still alive, and we have kept in constant touch with them. My older son Robert even spent a month with them recently while working in Oregon. Now we have vowed to stay in touch with Aunt Pat’s family as well. Phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged – and promises were made.
I intend to keep those promises.
So the circle of life continues. Young Jonathan Alexander Ramirez is just beginning his journey, and the worldly journey of Aunt Pat has ended. It makes it so much easier to deal with those endings when there are beginnings to look forward to.