In our travelling of the past little while, we have been fortunate to be able to combine some of our support-raising work with family visitation, and the process of saying good-bye.
This happened this past weekend when we were in Kelowna. My mother lives there, as does one of my sisters, so there was planned a Kilmartin Family Picnic – partly just to get together, but also to commemorate my mother’s 85th birthday. We were able to combine this with sharing about the ministry at Grace Baptist Church, which was really a lot of fun in its own right.
The family event went very well – the weather was really nice, and that day the smoke from northern B.C. was not in evidence. My sister chose a really great site to have it, right by the lake, under a large gazebo, and with enough grass to allow us to play bocce ball and devise a whiffle ball golf obstacle course. The food was marvelous, plentiful, and right up my palate’s alley. Six out of seven siblings were able to be there, which is pretty good for us.
The biggest surprise for me was to see my son Robert walk through the door at my sister’s house the day before the picnic. I had come in on the plane (flying in from eastern Canada), and was expecting Sonya to have beaten me to the airport (thinking that she was flying in from Edmonton). Instead she had driven with Robert, who was coming from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
It was a terrible long drive for Bob, happily broken up by a stay with his sister in Leduc, and then with friends in Lake Louise. The drive back east for him was not so nice, and he was not looking forward to the experience of getting home on his own (after the weekend was done I drove with Sonya south to OK Falls before flying home to Edmonton again). But he did it, he said, because he felt it was a good decision to do so.
Not all of my children share my perspective, but my view of my son Robert is that he has a great heart that is usually in the right place. In this case, it was right again. It was a great sacrifice for him to drive all that way, hours of it alone, in order to be at this family gathering. He felt it was important and worth it, and he was right.
People on their death bed know, and I am coming to find that missionaries heading toward the field know it as well, that there are a lot of things we can foolishly waste our time on, but being with family members for significant events is not one of them.
In the next few weeks we will see Bob again, as we drive to Manitoba to take care of things there – and to see our son, Daniel. Our son John will come west, to Canmore, and our daughter we’ll see this coming week. I cherish these times with our children, and loved the time spend with my extended family.
I hope that in your own life situation you are able to take some time to be with family as well, intentionally making time and space to connect with them in significant ways. Let us not take these people for granted, because they may not always be granted to us.