There are times in life that we might call an "Era". Times that are long in years, in sorrows, in difficulties. Times that turn into an "Era".
This week, our family has ended an Era and begun a new one.
You see, there were six of us kids. Four boys. Two girls. I grew up in the middle of four boys, in the middle of Iowa farm land, in the middle of my father's life. He was 46 when I was born. Mom, thankfully, was much younger!
My dad worked hard for us. He wasn't a genius in the ways of "today" and he would never have held down a white collar job. No, my dad was a man of the earth. Born in a log cabin (yep, he was and I am, that old!) on a homestead in Midland County, Michigan. His twin sister died within a month. Dad was the scrawny twin but he lived.
On a homestead you worked the earth. And survived. Dad told us stories of fishing when the fish were plentiful and of his grandfather (my great-grandfather, fresh here from Germany) following honey bees to troves of honey. He worked. He worked hard. When they moved to Nebraska it meant more work. By the sweat of the brow.
My parents had two sons born in Nebraska. Then they moved in the midst of winter to a new place in Iowa. There were four more moves when farm ventures proved not enough to take care of his family. But he stilled worked. And still by the sweat of the brow. And even though we were poor (we kids didn't realize that!) he kept a roof over our heads and food on a sometimes skimpy table.
But what I began to write about this morning is what happened later.
My oldest brother graduated from high school and attended a business school in Minnesota so that he could get a job and begin his own adult life. My brother met his wife there. And they married. And they moved to Michigan where their children were born. Their family grew to seven children. And then life fell apart. My brother spent a year fighting lymphoma before dying as a relatively young man. His widow was heart-broken. His children as well.
I won't go into the "how" of it but we lost contact with my nieces and nephews. They, in turn, were too young to know how to contact us in Iowa. They lost us. And we lost them.
Over the years we wondered where they were. And since we could not find them, we hoped one of them would find us. The story is too long.
Suffice it to say that this week my oldest brother's oldest son walked the farm ground where his father grew up. His children are seeing where their grandfather was raised. They're seeing old photographs and hearing old family stories and meeting their grandmother (great-grandmother), aunt, uncles, cousins.
That era of being lost from each other is over. We're in contact with five of the seven. This week my mother is seeing her grandson and her great-grandchildren for the first time. It is a tearful and a joyful week for all of us.
And now I need to get up out of this chair for we are going to drive to Nebraska to view the farms where my mother and my father each grew up. We will look out over the hills where they spent their childhoods. It will be a good day.
In the kitchen I hear the littlest one. He's saying, "I want Cheerios!". Gotta go!