Monday, July 20, 2015

Family and Milestones – This is How We Do It

 “I can’t believe that he was able to book the secret back room for this,” I called out to Debbie.  “That is so exciting!”  Wow! Our favorite steakhouse!  Yes, I know years ago, my brother Jeff had a wine cabinet there, but the back room – the business dining room area – this is so cool.  It is one of the places that we always dreamt about going to celebrate an event.  And, here it is, Jeff’s 50th and our Dad’s 80th.  Two important milestone birthdays was definitely a reason to celebrate.  We set the date, made the plans and looked forward to it.  As day drew closer, set for July 8th, Dad’s birthday, and Jeff’s birthday 3 days later, we became more excited about the celebration and the venue.  Then a few days after the dinner, Magda was taking Jeff to Bora-Bora as a gift for his milestone.

“The best laid plans…”  

The call came in Tuesday night.  It was Jeff from Houston, where his wife Magda, was at M.D. Anderson for her monthly checkup (she has been on test medications for cancer).  “The doctor said that we will need to be here for at least 10 days,” my brother told me.  Everything, as it should be, was put on hold.  We decided to go to a different restaurant to celebrate Dad’s birthday – it is not every day one gets to reach the age of 80.  As a kid, I remember people that reached 70 were considered very old.  Not today.  Dad still deserved the right to celebrate, even if one of his sons and daughter-in-law were unable to attend.

That left Jeff in Houston, a billion miles from home, to celebrate his milestone without fanfare and in a hospital.  

You know, family is a funny thing.  As parents, we do all that we can to nurture our children so that they will grow up into great adults.  As spouses, we do the things to make our life-mates strive to be their best and work towards a higher level of teamwork.  As grown children, we look after our parents, and sometimes, after our own siblings.  We get extremely angry at our family.  We get excited by doing things with our family.  We wonder at times why we have family.  Other times we wonder how we would get by without our family.  It sometimes seems like we are damned with our family; however, most times, we are blessed to have them.

Dad’s comment at dinner was, “It does not matter where we go for dinner, but who is there that we get to spend the time with.”  He is right, as we celebrated his milestone.  Brian (my other brother) and I knew deep down what we needed to do.  Our families knew what we needed to do.  We did what we knew we had to do.  Cost and time can be suspended and we can always revisit our actions and the impact of them at another time.  When it comes to family, we will always be there for each other.  One weekend in Houston, this allowed us to provide much needed support to Jeff and Magda, but also helped us to celebrate our brother’s milestone; there was no other option.  The morning before we left, Brian and I received an email from Dad.  He does not often send emails and this one meant a lot. “Have a good trip. You are doing the right thing and I am proud of you.”  Even at 52, with responsibilities to my family and work and other ventures, it is still nice to hear that from your father.

Friday, we flew down to Houston.  Saturday, with a small group of friends and family, we celebrated Jeff’s 50th in the hospital with a good ole Texas BBQ feast, bottles of wine and cocktails.  We were able to celebrate the milestone with a few unique side stories to boot.  My dad’s word from a few days ago still rang true.  Sunday, we hung out and Monday it was time to head back home.  Do we wish things were different?  Yes.  Did we make the best of the situation and have a great time?  YES!  For that reason alone, we are thankful to have been able to celebrate the two milestones on the correct dates.  This is what we do for each other and would not have it any other way.  When it comes to family, we are always there for each other, in good times and in bad times; to support, help and show our love for each other.