As odd as it might seem for someone born and raised in Nebraska, the majority of my family members now live in Colorado
In the South, kids growing up and leaving school often head to Atlanta or Dallas to find jobs. In Nebraska and Kansas, it was Denver that beckoned, so that’s how so many members of my family got there.
My youngest sister and I are the “odd ones out;” she lives in western New York State as do two of her children and their families. The other one lives in South Carolina.
Aug. 8 Elizabeth and I flew from New Orleans to Denver. We stayed with my sister in Aurora and spent time with my brother and his wife, who’d come down from their home in Grand Lake.
After they headed back to the mountains, some first cousins once removed came to see us. Elizabeth was especially happy to see Ian and his family, as he was the relative her age that she knew best while growing up. They have shared numerous adventures, including sitting in the trees in his parents’ cherry orchard, gorging on ripe cherries until they made themselves sick.
Elizabeth couldn’t stay in Colorado longer – she had to fly back the next morning to work that coming week.
After she left, I got to spend some time with my nieces and some of their children – including new babies! Two of my great nieces have newborn babies – how clever of them to time the births so I could see those newcomers.
Of course, they are darling babies– sweet girls, each already showing their individual characteristics and budding personalities. I didn’t get to see my other great grand niece, who is now several months old, but I’ve seen lots of photos.
When I was growing up, we never lived more than a few hours by train or car from many members of our extended families – maternal and paternal. We got to see them several times a year. As I get older, I realize how important that contact was.
My own kids never had that experience and the only members of our family who did were our oldest sister’s kids. My brother raised his family in California, where his job was and where theirs are now. As I said, our youngest sister raised her kids in New York.
Elizabeth lived in Texas and Mississippi until she graduated from college. Dan lived in Europe, Kansas and Texas, plus very briefly in Mississippi, hundreds of miles away from the nearest grandparent or aunt or uncle.
They’ve always understood the significance of family ties, however, and have done their best to maintain them. This is important to me because I always regretted that they didn’t get to grow up as close to extended family as I did.
In the Deep South, it seems it’s still true that kids grow up surrounded by family, but in other areas, scattered families seem more common than they were in previous generations. This situation may be one of the few things Southerners have over the rest of their countrymen.