Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Not living around family has NOT been my first choice. With three years of graduate school in Memphis, a couple years of preaching in North Carolina, seven years in Arkansas, and thirteen-plus years in Texas, I have missed being around my family. I'm so envious of families who raise their children around grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins. For two years in Searcy, one of my little sisters and one of Diane's little sisters were students at Harding. So Matt and Megan had aunts (and one little cousin) around. Not just aunts. But cool, college-age aunts. And for the the past two years another of Diane's sisters, my brother-in-law, and three nieces have lived here. On our end, we've tried to bridge the gap. Every other year we've alternated Ohio (McKee) and Missouri (Copes) Christmases. On the Ohio Christmas years, we've usually driven to Missouri (that's Miz-ur-uh) for Thanksgiving. And my parents have been wonderful. Who knows how many trips they've made to pinch-hit as babysitters or to see graduations, soccer games, baseball games, basketball games, and football games. Matt's senior year when AHS made it to the state quarterfinals, they came to two regular season games and all four (!) post-season games. Four straight weekends they drove from MO to Lubbock (twice) or Texas Stadium (twice). My youngest sister, now a teacher in AR, is a reliable e-mailer. My brother, a newspaper publisher (and executive for a newspaper chain), and I go through spurts of e-mail flurries. We know we're always there for each other. I know it hasn't been easy from my parents' end: having their grandchildren carted around from NC to AR to TX. But they have called, sent cards and photos, remembered every Christmas/birthday/Halloween/Easter, and visited often. While Megan was alive, they kept the kids a week every year. Trust me: keeping Megan for a week was a joy. But it wasn't easy. One year they kept her for ten days. When we returned, my very loving-but-haggard mother hugged us and said, "I think I'm a seven-day grandma." (A story lives on in our family of the day Megan wore my mom out during that ten-day stint. She called a good friend and told her that if she'd come keep Megan for half an hour she'd pay her $100,000,000.) I can't tell you what those weeks meant to our marriage, since life with Megan rarely gave us restful time together. It's not that we planned it this way. As Robert Frost said, "Way leads to way." We took one road and then another and then another. And now our folks are in their late sixties, and we're wishing we'd had more time together through the years. Would love to be an uncle-in-residence to Crista, Van, Tatum, Kari, Madison, and Hunter (from my side -- not counting, of course, my buddy Jantsen, my brother's son, who died in 1999), and Daniel, Caleb, Hannah, Benjamin, Joshua, Darrin, Abby, Brady (from Diane's side -- along with Sarah, Rebekah, and Elizabeth who live here). Probably many of you are separated from family. I hope you're working at it as hard as my parents have to stay in touch.

11 Comments:

  • I have two brothers both of whom joined the Air Force. One is now in Italy set to retire next year, and one has retired but moved to Virginia. My Mom and Dad never forget a birthday or anniversary. They hate airplanes but have flown to Italy, Spain and Germany to see me younger brother and his family. This time of year makes me especially long for extended family. I am grateful I am here for my parents, but selfishly I wish my brothers were here too!!

    By Blogger DJG, at 11/04/2004 05:10:00 AM  

  • For years my wife and I lived with in 2 1/2 hours of both families. I lived with in 15 minutes of one brother and 5 minutes from a childhood friend from church. We never missed holidays, birthdays, etc.

    Two years ago, God said move and we did. We are now 6 1/2 hours away from all family. We make atleast 2 to 3 trips a year to Alabama and my family makes atleast 1 if not 2 trips a year to Tennessee. There are times we miss our families greatly (like today when I had to take our van to the shop instead of asking my Father in Law to take a listen to it).

    Email, blogs, digital pictures, and free nights and weekends are great. But I wish my kids were seeing their grandparents more.

    However, the Lord provides. Thanksgiving will be spent for the third year with our adopted family here in Tennessee. We will sit at their table with their children and grandchildren and be apart of their family. Our last stop at trick or treating was at their house, where they made our kids feel very special and loved. The Lord has met our needs very generously!

    By Blogger Steve Duer, at 11/04/2004 05:49:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    15 months ago, my wife and I and five week old daughter loaded all of our earthly belongings and moved 940 miles away from our families and friends. Jen and I were answering God's call to serve as youth ministers. My wife had gone away to college, so living on her own, and being away from family wasn't a new experience. It was for me. I went to college, graduated, began teaching and graduate school all while living in the comfort of parent's home. So, when we made the decision to go into ministry it was a hard, tearful time. I hated moving, and almost tried to resign as a result of my initial fear of being away from family and not knowing any one here. It was awful, and yet at the same time it was one of the most spiritually rewarding times for me, for I was forced to seek God, and seek God, and seek God some more.

    It's hard being away from mom and dad, and my brother, But my wife's parents are moving to the same state, and with my wife's two brothers in the Marines, we don't see them much either.

    Bottom line, we miss our families. The church has been great to us, and has become extended family. But, boy do we miss our folks, and when they come to see us, the grandbaby is the real reason why they come, but we like to see them too.

    By Blogger Jason Retherford, at 11/04/2004 05:56:00 AM  

  • I've read that a lot of young people have latched onto "The Osbournes" on MTV because it is a family. A family with problems for sure. But a family that they can peek in on and wonder what it would be like to have a mom and dad who loved you and each other in their own dysfunctional ways.

    Others turn to movies, books, magazines, etc.

    I read this blog. I feel like I'm peeking in on a loving family, trying to imagine a father who loves his wife and children so much. It makes me think that life can be different.

    Thank you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/04/2004 06:19:00 AM  

  • Mike, I think you hit on something today a LOT of us can relate to. When my wife and I married in '78, we moved to Texas for two years, where her family lived, and then to Missouri (Mi-zur-ee) for two years, where my family lived, and found that in four years we had not really established ourselves as US, just as extensions of the two existing families. We then moved to Colorado for five years, where we knew no one, and had to learn to be a family on our own. Very productive years. After that, we were able to move back to be near family, and it is good, but there is a time to break away, usually beneficial when you are just starting. Great post, though. Family is important, and I miss mine that don't live close by.

    don

    By Blogger don, at 11/04/2004 06:40:00 AM  

  • Great post, Mike. We really relate. It's so incredible that my mom is moving here. She sold her house yesterday! I't been 12+ years since we have lived in the same city. Our girls are the real benefactors. Praise God for famly--blood and spiritual.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 11/04/2004 07:24:00 AM  

  • I can definitely relate. I grew up a 15 minute bike ride from my grandparents. I wish my daughter could do the same, but the Lord has called us to NY now, and Russia in the past.

    His promise is true, though, and a real blessing, "And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children, or fields because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life." I praise God for the 100 extra grandma's that spoil our little girl (and for priceline.com, too :-).

    By Blogger James, at 11/04/2004 07:56:00 AM  

  • Unlike most people, my family actually went the other direction. The bulk of my extended family (both sides) resides in the south. My parents moved to CA before I was born and my brothers and I spent many years in CA and NV, several states and many days away from relatives we'd really only heard of (and from; phone calls to and from grandma ever weekend).

    We were blessed, though, too. We had adopted "grandparents" and "aunts" and "uncles" who lived in our neighborhood. Moving nearer our blood family was a blessing in many ways, but leaving those with whom we'd connected so closely was sad. I still miss my "Grampa" Harold who roasted pine nuts every winter and "Gramma" Wilma who taught me to play "Spanish Eyes" on the organ.

    By Blogger Q, at 11/04/2004 07:59:00 AM  

  • I see a great struggle in your comments. But it is a struggle with which the modern world has presented most families since we move on average every 7-8 years. Obviously working hard at communicating with our families doesn't remove guilt or regret. I do think that making full use of the moments God gives us in any place should replace sentimental lapses of what could have been if families lived closer. Showing our kids "the way" is a pleasure whether with surrogate grandparents, significant peers, or alone (just us parents). Longing for home with our real father fills any day brimful of sheer contentment.

    By Blogger WDS, at 11/04/2004 07:39:00 PM  

  • I love to watch the interaction between the cousins/aunts/uncles in the Gibbs/Wilson/Zeller family. They are so close and enjoy each other so much. I would have loved for my children to experience that. All five of us kids were together here in Abilene for my daughter's wedding this summer. It was the first time since my mom died eight years ago that we were all together. It was a very special time. Hopefully one of my sisters will be moving here within the next year. Thanks for sharing.

    By Blogger Nancyk, at 11/04/2004 10:02:00 PM  

  • You are still my favorite Unlce even though I see you two, sometimes three times a year. Living in Missouri (no, not Miz-ur-uh)around grandparents (your parents) is a blessing. You are the best, Uncle Mike. I can't wait to see you at Christmas this year!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/08/2004 09:53:00 AM  

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