There’s a journaling prompt that I love to give in my art journaling classes that involves numbers. Everyone immediately groans when I tell them it involves numbers. So many of us are programmed from a young age that numbers are not fun, in fact, so many are dreaded…birthdays marking another decade has ended, dates on the calendar demanding payment of bills, numbers on the scale that just seem to go up. But I like this prompt and I assure everyone it is about reflecting on numbers that are symbolic in their lives; numbers that are special for whatever reason. Numbers that are representative of events or memories.
Today I realized that 27 is going to be on my next journal entry that I do in response to my prompt. It was fall, 27 years ago that life changing events happened and the anniversary of those events this year has a new meaning. 27 years ago, I met Chris, my future husband, at a condo party in Columbia, SC amidst a lot of beer, a swimming pool, and very pink hot dogs ( perhaps that’s why I became a vegetarian so many years ago?) We celebrated our 25th anniversary in August, and with our four kids, we are enduring a time of hardship that has taken us on a roller coaster ride for the last three years. As we are desperately hoping this part of our journey ends soon, we are grateful that our family is weathering the storm together.
27 years ago, my grandfather – my NaNu – passed away. He was our connection to the old world, Sicily, having arrived in America on the boat through Ellis Island in 1919. My last memories were of him singing Italian songs when I visited him in hospice. My favorite memories include flying to Sicily with him when I was 12 and being mesmerized by his stories as we strolled through the beautiful streets of Cefalu and enjoyed gelato in the village court square. Oh how I wish I had learned more from him and how I wish my father grew up speaking Sicilian instead of his parents trying to “Americanize” as much as possible.
Then there was the birth of my nephew, Nicholas. This event is what makes me so stuck on 27 now. Over the last 27 years, I have not gotten to spend too much time with Nick. My brother, Ross, and his family have moved multiple times, as have we, and we have never been in close proximity to each other. The last move my brother and sister-in-law made, however, was to take their other children and move close to where Nick was living on his own as a young adult. It is a move that they seem to cherish every day. Their family is close-knit and they enjoy each other’s company. They spend time together in ways so many families don’t make time for anymore.
Nick turned 27 years old last week and is about to be a father to his first child any day with his lovely wife, Robin. Even though I haven’t gotten to see much of those 27 years first hand, what I know is that Nick is going to be an awesome dad! His role model, my brother, was obviously a fantastic dad to him. Together, my brother and my kind hearted sister-in-law, have raised four children that believe in family, respect, and love.
I asked my brother years ago how they did it; how he and Nan raised a united family. He probably doesn’t even remember this conversation, but it stuck with me. It is simple…they are present. They are there for their kids, always. It’s a recipe for a happy family that I am trying my best to follow.
I hope that I am around 27 years from now to see this new soul that is about to be born be the amazing person he is destined to be. Obviously, being wonderful is in his genes!