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Shortly after I married a native Texan, I said goodbye to my parents following a holiday in North Carolina. I remember being suddenly overcome with emotion when saying goodbye to my mom.
I have always been the independent type who didn’t think twice about going to college or graduate school in another state or marrying and moving to Texas while my family was in New York and North Carolina. But when Morgan was born almost 13 years ago, my attitude changed a lot.
I called my mom daily during Morgan’s first three years, telling her everything Morgan did that day. Then, when I was sworn onto the San Antonio City Council in June of 2009, we decided it was the perfect time for Morgan to spend her first summer with Grandma in North Carolina. I will never forget the ambivalent look on her face – excitement and sadness – as she held onto Grandma Pat’s hand and waved goodbye to me at the San Antonio International Airport. For five summers, I sent Morgan to North Carolina where she spent time with my parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles and my Grandmother, “MaDear”. When MaDear went on to her heavenly reward two weeks ago at the age of 94, I felt so grateful that I let Morgan spend those five summers away from me and connecting with my family who lives far away.
Last week Morgan and I flew to North Carolina for MaDear’s funeral and experienced other changes in our family as well. My sister had her first baby and Morgan met her new cousin for the first time. It was such a joy to see this baby at the beginning of his life. At the same time, though, we experienced the harsh reality of aging. My mother has been suffering from dementia and Morgan and I were able to observe firsthand her new and strange behaviors and interactions.
All this left me thinking and contemplating on how to maintain strong family connections across the miles, over the years and in spite of overly busy schedules. One of my staffers recently went to her biennium family reunion that was very well attended and provided an opportunity to reconnect, see new babies and rehash old times. Sometimes it can be so hard to deal with changes in families and I find it hard to believe that I am 46, my mom is 70 with dementia and MaDear is now gone. But looking at Morgan and my new nephew together made me want to make the extra effort to strengthen family bonds. In the coming months I will be thinking and praying on how I can best convey the incredible significance of that to Morgan. How do you and your family celebrate your special bonds?
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