20141026 – Of Friendships and Happiness, or Mom and Dad Did It!
Friendships born of shared experiences can ebb and flow, but they often last a lifetime. Formed and nurtured around the campfire; refreshed as growing families; and shared in musings and memories under starlit skies behind a tractor on an old hay wagon; they live on and warm the heart. And it was all because our parents thought it might be fun to get several families together for a weekend at the beach when they themselves were just in their early thirties. Yes, Mom and Dad, the First Generation, did it!
They introduced us to other kids who would become lifelong friends. It was more than fifty years ago. I was twelve years old. Our Mom and Dad took us camping with a group of their friends, and their children, we the kids, first met each other as a group on the shores of Lake Michigan. We shared playtime and swimming at the beach. We shared meals in camp. We shared stories around the campfire. And we looked forward to the next year, and then the next, and the year after. Over the years we walked the sand dunes, climbed and jumped out of trees, floated for hours out on the still waters, built sand castles, toasted marshmallows, and built relationships. Each year, for a few days, we grew, together.
We graduated, moved away, started families of our own, built new relationships, and let the old ones lie fallow for years. Then the letter, “Hey, thought it would be fun to get together with the Second Generation at the lake. Wanna come? You bet!” And the new cycle started. Maybe our kids would connect, maybe they wouldn’t. But we did.
We refreshed those friendships, shared stories, rode the dunes in an old twelve seat dune buggy, played games with the kids, and gathered over fifty family members around a roaring campfire. And again we looked forward to the next year, and then the next, and the year after. One year we partied on the lakeshore while, lo and behold, the First Generation drifted by on the deck boat! They had sneaked back and crashed the party; a complete surprise, a bunch of sixty-somethings out for a cruise and playing their own joke on us, themselves a group of friends for more than thirty years.
And we drifted apart again as life intruded once more. Our children grew up and had families of their own. We began winding down careers, caring for our own parents, assuming the role of grandparents, planning our later years, and spending more time with and helping to raise the youngest members of our families. We learned Facebook, Skype, email, and texting, and a few of us stayed connected through technology. Then the Facebook post, “My family…are thinking of having a campfire in the woods for Our Generation at my place…”, and I had to be there.
Last night as we shared a meal and our life stories around that campfire, and spotted a few shooting stars, and rode behind that tractor, I wondered about all those intervening years, all of the myriad details of our lives that we’d never know, what was, and what might have been had we stayed more connected. And I appreciated that what we had was good, a friendship that spanned more than fifty years, a friendship that survived three generations, a friendship that was comfortable and warm, like old jeans and a fleece sweatshirt against the late evening chill. Leaving hugs and thanks behind, I asserted that we ought not to let life get in the way of staying connected. I intend to make sure that we don’t.
As we drove into the night I thought about what makes me happy in life and was reminded that faith, family and friends are the essential elements of my happiness. Under the glory of an unfathomable night sky around a fire with closest family and friends, I found myself living the happiness I crave. And I have my Savior, that first generation, my friends and my family to thank.
Enjoying the blessing of happiness today…Pops
You said it better than I ever could! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being you. Always, Teri
And the same for you my friend. I think happiness comes in short bursts, and lingers in our memories like those shooting stars. We keep searching the heavens and waiting for that next streak of fire and light to appear. Saturday night’s campfire was a shooting star, one of a continuing shower that I wish for our little group during all the years God gives us. Peace my friend, Terry
Terry! What a talented writer you are! I absolutely loved reading this and as I read it to my husband, I too choked on the words. I only wish that I had been more available all those years ago as a young professional woman I didn’t stop to “smell the roses” enough and I missed out on some of life’s best moments. Well not again, next time I will be there and the next time after that. Seeing you and your brothers made me so happy, you each have such unique talents and are such delightful and good men. Your parents did a good job raising you.
I would love to offer my house for our next event or one of the next events and I would like to widen the circle to include other important 2nd generation members.
Thanks again Terry for your beautiful writing. Hugs to all!
I’m blushing Darcy, thank you for your kind words. Saturday was a wonderful experience, but I felt the absence of friends as keenly as I felt the presence of friends. I’m with you on widening that circle, and yet, perhaps because of our ages, I’ve always felt closest to your family and the Howard clan. I understand about the roses, too many times we are so focused on our own lives and careers that we don’t appreciate how precious those friendships can be. I look forward to many more happy moments with our Second Generation friends! Thanks for being there, Terry
What a great tribute to our lives as kids and what happened as our friendships blossomed. We have always had a great connection.
I love watching the faces of people when I talk about being part of “the Gang” and what we have done over the years!
What a fun group of people! Looking forward to the next event.
Thanks Pam. It always amazes me that we “bonded” so quickly as the Second Generation gang – I mean, preteen, really?! I find it such a joy that we band of sisters and brothers have stayed connected all these years, whether near or far apart, whether actively or just occasionally. I hope the next time we get together it’s sooner than a year. So good to see you and Vern again. Terry
Hey Pops/Terry. Pam put me on to your blog. your notes brought back fond memories of pioneer SP and silver lake SP/Dunes with the Gang. I have stayed closest to the Howards over the yrs and was unable to make it to any 2nd gen gatherings due to distance away. If there is another one I will be there. Thanks again.
Hey Mark, glad to hear from you and thanks for reading my blog. I hope that with Facebook, email and special events like the campfire at Teri’s our second generation gang will be able to stay better connected than we have the last few years. It’s been way too long since those fun times at Silver Lake! Terry