Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Life, or Something Like It.

It's been an emotional week.  Last Wednesday my oldest daughter started Grade 2.  She was excited and nervous, but not as anxious as this mommy, who didn't sleep well the night before.  Some of us Grade 2 moms were standing outside after the kids were settled and the pictures taken, laughing at how much easier it was to walk out of the classroom this year than it had been last year, when they were starting Grade 1.  Our kids had already transitioned from the play of kindergarten to the serious learning of grade 1 last year, so it didn't seem as monumental this year to drop them off with their freshly sharpened pencils and unscuffed indoor shoes.  There were no new kids to scope out and wonder how they would fit into the class, no unfamiliar faces to evaluate, "Are they nice? Will they be kind?".  Everyone was a known quantity this year.

We went straight from that first day of school, to Amy's memorial service the next day.   I can only echo what the minister said, we shouldn't have had to be there.  Our presence there wasn't the result of a car accident or lingering illness, but a horrific tragedy that should never have happened.  Amy's brother put together a slideshow with video, that while beautiful, was also fraught with pain and sadness.

Every three years, on the Labour Day long weekend, our extended Strom family (my grandpa's siblings and their descendants) meet at Southern Alberta Bible Camp on Travers Reservoir for a family reunion, and last Friday was the start of that event.  Unfortunately, Mike's work schedule meant that we couldn't go until Saturday morning. I wish that I had caught a ride with some family on Friday and let Mike drive up on his own on Saturday since I treasure every minute at the reunion.  It was fantastic, as usual.  The weather was beautiful, other than a bit of wind.  The food was superb, especially since we didn't have to prepare it, and the well-appointed new lodge was the perfect backdrop to our time together.

Photo - Gerritt Dykstra
We've been having these family reunions for as long as I can remember, and the three year gap is no accident.  It's scheduled that way on account of the many family members who were overseas career missionaries who would come home to Canada every three years to visit their supporters and raise funds for the next three years.  The family would gather from Zimbabwe, China, Japan, The Dominican Republic and wherever else they were scattered.  It used to be a one day event at Fish Creek Park in Calgary, but at some point someone decided that one day together just wasn't enough time for visiting, so it was moved and extended to a long weekend at SABC.  I have fond memories of those weekends.  So many late nights being crazy with cousins, and days laying on the beach or boating.  (Remember the year that Sophia had to leave back to the States at 5:30 am and no one had an alarm clock so we decided to just stay up all night instead?) This year I stayed up later than I had since I was a teenager, 3 am!  My younger cousins/siblings who don't have kids were dropping like flies and heading off to bed.  Obviously having children is good training for staying up late.

At one point during a meal, while surrounded by almost 200 people, I told my youngest daughter, "You're related to all the people in this room". How often can you say that about such a large group? Sunday evening found us winding down and preparing to leave, but many of us, particularly in our branch of the family, lingered to the bitter end, even as the tables were rolled away, the chairs stacked, and the last bags packed into the cars. It was like a balm for my soul being with all my family.

And now I'm home.  Monday I had such a headache, it felt like a sadness hangover.  This week marks the start of the busy season: dance lessons, kid's club, therapy appointments, parent council meetings.  I feel unprepared to begin it all, but hopeful that the structured days will carry me through the darkness of the approaching winter.

Photo - Gerritt Dykstra


  1. What a great legacy your kids have. 200 people in one family gathering together with a love of the Lord. Amazing. That is something to hold close. Will pray the darkness doesn't overshadow the brightness of your heart this winter. Praying to for the rest of your family.

  2. And 200 people isn't even close to the actual number in the family! My Grandpa came from a family of 11 kids. In my grandpa's branch alone there are over 70 of us. I don't even know how many there would be if we counted up everyone from the 11 branches. Of course many people can't attend because of timing or distance, but we usually have around 200 every time.