Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Family Ties

The ties that bind us together may be as tangible as an umbilical cord on a newly-born calf. Or it may be as inexplicable as the technology that allows us to see our granddaughter via our laptop computer.

So far, Kinley doesn't seem to see us on the computer screen as we Skype. She's more interested in her newly-discovered toes and attempting to "pick" flowers off her spring dress.

The smiles are more for whichever parent is hiding behind the computer's camera, trying to entice a grin from a wiggly girl. And though we've heard she's quite a "talker" in person, she evidently needs more than a slow internet connection to tell us all her secrets.

We are counting the minutes until we see her in person this Easter weekend, though it's amazing that her parents can take a photo before work, and we can see it minutes later, 3 hours and many miles away. Technology is indeed a miraculous thing.

Connections can be fragile. A mom and baby are separated by a fence. Neither seems to realize that there's an open gate just a few feet away that would be the pathway to a mother and child reunion (as the old Paul Simon song goes).

But just like the biology that reunites baby calf to mama, ties bring us back together again. This weekend, the "tie" was a birthday - my Dad's 78th.

And though only part of the family could actually be there to eat the coconut cake and relish the homemade ice cream, the birthday boy got phone calls all afternoon.

That same afternoon, my parents went to a birthday party for a 100-year-old man. Family and friends came together to celebrate a milestone a whole century in the making.

Our family is found in the genes that give us our blue eyes or our round faces. But it can also be built in other places - in a Sunday School classroom, on the bleachers watching another ballgame or lining up at the elevator to dump a load of wheat.

Connections can even come through clicking "like" on Facebook or laughing at someone's Twitter feed. We all want that feeling of belonging, of camaraderie.

Call it a clan, call it a network,
call it a tribe, call it a family:
Whatever you call it,
whoever you are,
you need one.
-- Jane Howard

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