I’m sitting in my brother John’s living room this morning, listening to my 18-year-old son Noah playing legos with his 4 and 7-year old cousins Matthew and William as if they are 1) the same age and 2) best buddies. Through my own fault and skewed priorities, these cousins had never met until yesterday, and yet somehow they know each other. The Reynolds eyebrows, the sunny personalities, the silliness, the laugh — all feel familiar to them and so create an instant connection. I feel the same way. I love his family instantly and wish that we lived closer. More specifically, I wish that I had made more of an effort to see them because right now, I can see what I’ve missed out on. I see Johnny’s quiet, observant nature in William and my mother’s optimistic, giving qualities in Matthew and the curious, active personality of my brother James in little David. I see glimpses of my grandmother and grandfather in the farmers that my brother and his beautiful wife Kate have become on this 36 acre slice of heaven in Northern California. And as I listen to these cousins play, I am reminded of my own cousins and how much I loved them (still do). I’m reminded of how much I looked forward to seeing them at my grandparent’s house — and the mischief we would get into (well, truth be told, it was usually Greg, Hugh, and Kent that got into mischief, but we all relished in their mishievery). Those were days of climbing trees and hide and seek and grandpa jiggling our chins and grandma’s stash of candy on the piano. They were the days of sleeping in the living room with my sister and Sheryl and Sue, of Pepe the dog singing along to Grandpa’s harmonica, of listening to all of the grownups laughing and playing card games at the dining room table. Even all these years later, there are long- standing inside jokes and references that ground me every time they are mentioned.
What an incredible gift family can be. Sure, there are differences in personality or priorities or values, but at the core, there is a thread that connects us all — a shared history, a familiarity, a deep understanding of who we are, flaws and all. And if we’re lucky, there is also an acceptance of who we are, flaws and all. And I am lucky. I see in my brother’s eyes a deep understanding and acceptance of who I am — he knows me better than almost anyone else. Indeed, what an incredible gift this is — but it’s a gift I have been neglecting. My promise today is to change that. Because as wonderful as our shared history is, hopefully, with a little more effort on my part, we, and our children, will have a shared future as well.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /English teacher and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.