Growing up many of my family adventures, planned and unplanned, were marked by the phrase, ‘making memories.’ Sometimes the phrase was used to mark the ordinary, but fulfilling times in life – such as the first summer night we roasted marshmallows around the campfire. Other times it described unforeseen challenges – such as when we survived camping in the midst of a huge thunderstorm. It was used to put a positive spin on negative experiences – like the time we wandered lost in an unfamiliar city for hours and didn’t stop for directions. And it was used to mark important occasions, putting words to moments we knew would be treasured long into the future – such as graduations and weddings.
The past ten days our family has been making memories; memories now stashed away, but ones which will live into the future as (various versions of) stories will be told and retold for years to come. You see this was a big year for the Elton’s – two graduations to be exact. And to mark these moments, we thought we had to celebrate. So we headed to Barcelona, Spain for 10 days of visiting places we had never been before. Ten days and seven different Mediterranean cities. Each day we explored places we had only studied in classes or heard about in the news. Each day we experienced amazing cities and saw another part of a beautiful region of the world. One day…Pompeii and the ruins of a city destroyed by a volcano. Another day…Rome and Vatican City. One day…pizza in Naples and yes…we were in Cannes, France during the final days of the international film festival. (Seriously? I still don’t know if I believe it.) Every day was interesting, filled with ancient history, glorious landscape, and many stories.
But the cities visited only provided some of the memories. Many more came from the ordinary, less glamorous, moments. There was the billiard challenge and the night bowling. There were card games of Rummy and daily work-outs together. There was ordering drinks by the pool, sitting in the hot tub, and waiting as they prepared to leave port. Ordinary things, yes, but these small events grounded each day and gave us opportunities to BE with each other. No schedules, no external demands. And woven into each day were the conversations, mostly at the meals, when we gathered each day, taking about life. We had the gift of time…time to simply have another cup of coffee (or glass of wine in my case) and wonder about today, the future, and what matters.
Tomorrow we board the plane for the flight home. The flight will be long, but it too is part of the journey. A saying our family has is, ‘sometimes you have to go far to come near.’ We have often used it referring to mission work, but today I believe it is fitting for this trip. We did travel far – our bodies reminded us of that the day we landed in Spain. But we also grew close – something being without internet and having only each other can often do. But ten days in tight quarters does not always equate to growing closer. And for that I am deeply grateful. We, four very different individuals, not only love each other, but we also like each other. We laugh, we give space, we explore the world together, and we have learned how to be family. Sure it’s taken time, and many days it’s been hard. But somewhere along the way, we did it. We figured it out – that pushing through the tough times and celebrating the good times is worth it. Sisters aren’t friends, they are family. And moms and dads do really have your back, even when it doesn’t seem like it. And having adventures, and making a few memories, just might be an important part of making it happen.
So, here’s to another chapter in making memories. Until next time…
A very grateful mom.