Four friends, one parent left

I have shared before that I am blessed to still have two friends dating back to elementary school with a third one being added in junior high school. We four visit when I return to my home town of Jacksonville, usually over much laughter and time well spent.

Unfortunately, some of the recent visits have been for funerals for our parents. Tomorrow, I will be headed down for the next to last parent funeral for our group. Glenn lost his mother this week.

That will leave Frank’s mother as the last parent. Unfortunately, she has been burdened with Alzheimer’s like my mother. So, she won’t likely remember any of us. But, she is a rock for us all, as we spent  more time with her as Frank’s father died forty years ago.

Glenn’s mother was a gem as well. One of my favorite stories about Glenn’s mother is while she drove any of her children, regardless of age, when she braked the car, she would invariably shoot her right arm out to restrain her child. For my British friends, think left arm. Picture an adult child being restrained by his mother when she brakes.

She was a caring woman whose husband was a minister. He passed away two years ago. Her several grandchildren called her “Nana.” I like that as it suits her well.

She will be missed by her family and friends. She lived a full life and raised a beautiful family. Please think a good thought for her. And, if still blessed to have your mother and/or father, give them a call. If not call a brother, sister or friend.

Houseful of kids – we love the chaos

We always wanted to have a house where our kids felt comfortable in having their friends come over. Well, we have that house, and at times we laugh at the chaos, but would not have it any other way. My wife says we provide a soft place to land, but in essence we provide a haven where we do not judge; we just ask questions and listen. So the kids and now young adults keep coming by and it makes our lives and that of our kids much better. But, we have to be pretty flexible to make it happen, as gatherings often happen without much planning.

Our kids have benefitted, as they tend to be more introverted than extroverted, except with their friends. So, by having friends in our house for a weekly night of role-playing games or just impromptu electronic gaming or movie watching, makes them feel even more comfortable and inclined to ask others to do things. Plus, twelve years ago, we built a pool adding to a hot tub we already had. The final straw in the decision to build the pool was a friend said if you build a pool you will get to know your children’s friends. What is interesting, the hot tub is the final destination as kids will sit on the side, with some in the hot tub, and end the party with conversation and joking.

Another benefit for our kids is it gives them safe place to be themselves. We fortunately have a game area upstairs where they can gather. The greatest joy we have as parents is hearing our kids laughing with their friends through closed doors. Plus, they share their friends, so sibling rivalry is minimized. My middle child has benefitted greatly as he leads a role-playing game and has done so for over four years. Half the time, the kids are just hanging out, but he has kept it interesting enough that they continue to look forward to it. This has helped him be better organized and pursue his creativity. The sad part is with him at college, we don’t get to have the many friends over to play and make our house louder and more fun. So, as the summer ends and everyone heads back to college, it will get quieter.

Parents that have this kind of house probably have a smile on their face as they read this. If you are reluctant to have one of these houses, don’t be. The joy and camaraderie will far outweigh the negatives of less order. Plus, you and your kids will benefit. We know our kids’ friends and they know us. It is delightful. Trust me on this.