It's summertime, and the living is easy, well, and busy and crazy with everyone trying to catch the most of summer.
The houses of the families belonging to the Youngs now based in the Provo/Orem area have been rocking these past few weeks with our two Arizona families getting out of the heat, and our Palo Alto, California, branch of family, who came for their foundation’s golf tournament in June and then stayed on for the Fourth of July.
All of the boys except Tom made the golf tournament, and all but one cousin came to the Park City Mountain event after. We’ve enjoyed a family hike up Y Mountain; roasting s’mores over a fire pit at Melissa’s; the blessing of Jim’s daughter Emeline and the baptism of Steve’s daughter Summer at Mike and Shayne’s; movies; dinners; and, of course, the Stadium of Fire at BYU.
Family gatherings are the craziest but also the best times of life. As a grandparent, I delight in watching the grandchildren enjoy each other’s company. My grandma heart was cheered last spring when our grandson Braedon posted on Instagram an anonymous quote he found on the Internet: “Your cousins are usually the first friends you have as a child. No one will ever understand your crazy family like your cousins do even if you haven’t talked to them lately. Repost this if you have the best cousins in the world.”
I discovered there are many variations on this theme. One that made me chuckle added, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we are a normal family.”
My sister Kathy is such a fun grandma. She takes her grandchildren camping all by herself, even driving far distances to give them happy experiences. Where she got that ambitious gene, I do not know. I would much rather find a beach or a swimming pool.
My friend Elouise Jensen called me just before the Fourth. She said, “I need to talk to someone who understands.” She had a houseful of visiting family and needed a listening ear for a few minutes.
I once wrote an article, “Is a Clean, Shiny Piano the Key to Happiness?” that expressed my feelings about being overrun by small children with sticky hands. Since it was published in 2007, seven grandchildren have been added to the fray.
After listening to chopsticks played probably a hundred times, I was reminded of the article, which included, “Homes are for using, not for turning into a museum.”
I reminded myself this as I polished off the fingerprints from my shiny black Baby Grand and cleaned the keys that were mighty sticky. “How many times have I told those kids to wash their hands before they play Grandma’s lovely piano?” I muttered to myself.
Even with seven more grandchildren running about our house, I agree with the premise of what I wrote. I like what author Gunilla Norris wrote: “When we clean and order our homes, we are somehow also cleaning and ordering ourselves.”
So, I’ll keep shining up that piano and washing those grandchildren’s hands.
As heartwarming and mostly fun the gatherings are, it’s a change from having your own time. We smile through the busy chaos because our hope is that all the mingling will continue and these cousins will be there for each other once we aren’t around.
We hope when times are hard and they need someone who understands them, they will take the time to listen. We hope the older ones will live good, honest lives as examples to the younger ones. And most of all, we hope they will always remember they were loved unequivocally — sticky fingers, warts and all.