Last night my sister sat in the OR waiting room with Darryl and me. She felt certain she was either going to pass out, throw-up, or burst into tears at any moment, but she was there. “You look fine and I’m supposed to be supporting you but I feel like I’m the one falling apart,” she offered apologetically. I laughed, still glad she was there with us. “You get used to this sort of thing, ya know?” I replied, biting into a Smashburger supper (bestchickensandwichever). Her slightly green face convinced me she didn’t.
It’s not the first time my family has come alongside in hard times. In fact, they are always standing by–ready to listen, bring a meal, or take the kids. We are literally surrounded by family that cares, and even if they can do nothing their presence and support brings comfort and joy. I come from a family of six kids, two sisters and three brothers. And with their wives, husbands, and kids plus my own mom and dad, we have a whole army of pretty awesome folks.
I really never stop to think about what a unique blessing my family is. I realized it more this visit as our family became the object of curiosity for the nurses. One of our favorite nurses was an only child and was blown away by the sheer mass and involvement of family. “So, how often do you see each other? Once a month and on holidays?” she asked. “At least once a week,” my brother-in-law Ellis replied, “and lots of times in between.” “I always wanted a brother or sister so bad,” she said wistfully, “I can’t imagine having what you have.”
And it’s true, isn’t it? Usually large families (lots of kids) are looked at with dollar signs and time commitment. Our society emphasizes “me-time” and financial security–quite honestly, it’s hard to have those with big families! But the ironic thing is that in all our pursuit of happiness and pleasure we often push away the things that bring the most joy. I know not everybody can have big families, but what a blessing for those who do have them!
In my teen years as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home it amazed me how much family trumped every other accomplishment in a person’s life. One gentleman I took care of was good friends with Gerald R. Ford. He had a fantastic career all his life but in the end it was his son and daughter that meant everything to him. It was all he could talk about and meant more than any other success in his life. Can you see it? God wired us to live as families, it’s even how he’s set the Church up to be and how defines his relationship with believers (Father or adopted son and daughters).
Back to last night. We came back into the room just as they wheeled Calvin back up from the operating room. His face was swollen and raw. He looked nothing like his cute little self and a new attachment protruded from his throat. It was hard for me to see, probably harder for my sister to see. But she too stood by, rubbing his feet and praying right along with us, weak-kneed and all.
Perhaps it takes the hard times in life to realize the treasure of the ordinary. Yep, that’s family, and they are extraordinary.