Family Roots

Family Roots

I often have ten thousand things running through my mind at even given moment. Things I have to do, things I need to do, and things I want to do. I’m easily thinking of the next dessert recipe I want to try, the next craft project I want to start and what I want to eat for dinner in the mix of things going on at the present time. One thing that is generally always on my mind and almost always at the forefront of my thoughts is family. Especially the past few days. Recent events of the loss of someone I loved very dearly brought about strong feelings of sadness, happiness, joy, pride, anger and fear. Death always seems to elicit a myriad of emotions from me and is a topic that I would love to write about in the future. However, it is not the topic at hand that’s on my mind currently. What I want to write about is family. 

Webster defines family as: the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children also: any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family. It also states: a group of persons of common ancestry :CLAN. The last definition is more of the one that I was looking for; and remember that highlighted word, as that’s important for this post. I have a very large family on my mother’s side (my mother’s side is what I am going to be referring to in this post). My dad’s side is not that big and lives just a couple of hours away, but my mom’s side of the family lives fairly close together.  

To do a quick breakdown and to not get too confusing, as it is very confusing to me and I’m in the middle of it, my mom’s dad (my grandpa) had 3 brothers and a sister. Out of those 5 came 19 kids (if I am remembering correctly). Then those kids had more kids, and their kids had kids, and somewhere along the lines there’s even more kids. I live on my grandpa’s old farmland behind my parents and my God-parents (my Aunt and Uncle). Beside them just a few steps further is my other Aunt and Uncle. Across the street is my Uncle and my 2 first cousins and their families. Mind you, this is just on a few acres of land. If you go even further up the road, either way, you run into more of my family. We were born here and for the most part, we just kinda stayed here. This part seems pretty simple to understand, it’s when you branch out a little further that it gets confusing to an outsider. Yes, you are an outsider if you don’t understand the fundamentals of how this family works.  

My Uncle Charles just passed away. He was such a kind, loving, sweet and God-fearing man. He loved his family, he demanded honest work and he was always smiling. His body was weary for a good while and we are rejoicing knowing that he is whole in Heaven. There is nothing confusing about how great this man was, what is confusing is that he isn’t technically my “Uncle”. He is my mom’s first cousin. When I tried to actually figure out how we were related, some sites suggested he was my second cousin, or my first cousin once removed (where did he go?). It was too much to figure out and much easier the way I grew up. I grew up with knowing him as Uncle Charles and his wife as Aunt Linda. Their kids were not my second cousins or third cousins or any removed cousins, they were just my cousins. Plain and simple. Simple is good right? You see, ever since I can remember, all of my mom’s first cousins were known as Uncle and Aunt to me. That’s how I introduce them. That’s how I refer to them. That’s how they are in my heart. It only really occurred to me how confusing it was when I was trying to explain the family to my husband. He was a bit confused at how many brothers/sisters my mom had that would explain that many Uncles and Aunts. And if we’re being honest, we’re a bit clannish, which I’ve heard more than once in my life.  

You see, around here, we don’t really pay much attention to the branches on the family tree and we just focus more on the roots. When you try to look up at the branches and see who branches off from where and who they are attached to at the trunk, you just get a bit dizzy and your neck hurts from staring up into the sky for that long. When all you really have to do is look at the roots. It’s simple. Again, I like simple. The roots for the Sears family run deep and strong. They have to in order to hold up all the branches from this massive tree. Have you ever seen a really tall big beautiful tree with little tiny roots? Neither have I. The roots on our tree go back many, many generations, but the one thing that matters, is that they make up one strong family. So my Aunt and Uncle are like parents to me. They literally helped me grow up and helped me get into school. They even helped me build my house. My technical first cousins are like siblings. I was technically an only child, but I had cousins that I grew up with that I am closer to than most brothers/sisters are. My mom’s cousins are my Aunts and Uncles and my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th cousins are just cousins. There is no need to figure out which ones, since I love them all much more closely than most people love their 2nd cousins. Do people know their 4th and 5th cousins? I might know mine I guess, but I probably just look at them like 1st cousins.  

To get even a little more complicated, I have cousins who aren’t really my cousins, but are my cousins’ cousins and I had grandparents that weren’t technically mine, but I called them Grandma and Grandpa. When giving a family history at the doctor I have to constantly remind myself that just because my Aunt’s sister had this doesn’t mean I need to write it down because she isn’t really my blood family. But where it really counts, she’s family.  

The other thing that really gets people freaked out is that I see them a lot. I mean a lot. I eat with my parents everyday almost, but I definitely see them everyday. I see my God-parents almost everyday too. My Uncle and cousins across the street, we eat with them several times a month and see them at least 4 days out of the week. The rest of the family, all of those not really Aunts and Uncles and all those who-knows-what degree cousins, I see them as often as I can. Some family moved to the beach, which is fine because I love the beach, and some moved states away, but I still keep up with them and I still see them as often as I can. When one of us is in need, an entire posse comes running. We can fill a hospital waiting area like no ones business, and we can get pretty loud and boisterous too. A lot of places are probably glad when we leave. But we are there for each other no matter what. We’re clannish. And we’re ok with that. But we aren’t exclusive. 

Part of the reason our family is so big is that we are constantly welcoming people in. If you marry in, you never get out. Never. And if you are friends with someone in the family, especially if you don’t have any family close by, you’re stuck with us. You are automatically a Sears. I can’t remember how many times people have come up to shake my dad’s hand and said “Mr. Sears” and he just rolls on with it. They do it to me too. I’ve never technically carried the name Sears as my name, but that’s what I’m known as. Almost every time my husband and I go into town we see someone I know that comes up and gives me and hug and asks me about the family, my husband goes “is that family” and every time my response is “might as well be”.  

Family is community and community is family, which is a whole other post in itself, but it’s the truth. No matter the actual designation, my life will be full of Aunts who aren’t Aunts, Uncles who are cousins, Parents who aren’t biological, siblings who are cousins, and family that isn’t technically family at all. But you know what? My heart stays full because with so many people to call family, you never run out of people to love and love you back.  

 

Rest In Peace Uncle Charles 

We will see you soon! 

Gina T 

My Great Grandparents


Stop and Smell the Roses

Rose

Roses are red, yellow, purple and pink.

They come in more colors than you might think.

They all sparkle in the morning dew.

No matter their differences, just like me and you.

I like to consider myself someone that has a green thumb. I absolutely love working in my yard and gardening everything. I love to plant and trim bushes, grow fruits and vegetables, and plant and care for all kinds of beautiful flowers. I think this love of the outside and love of my yard was passed down to me from my grandma, my momma and my aunt. It would really be no surprise to walk down our street (but don’t really walk because it’s a really busy street) on a beautiful day and see my mom, my aunt or myself outside doing something in the yard. It’s just a hobby that to me is so satisfying. It takes a lot of work and a lot of care and learning, but to see the fruits of your labor is just so gratifying and beautiful. I can’t wait for the Springtime to come around each year so I can start searching through my flower beds looking for the tiny sprouts of life or searching my roses for new buds. I think one of my favorite things to do in the yard though is to tend to my rose garden.

My grandmother had a small rose garden in her yard that I remember as a child. I used to love walking around my grandma’s yard admiring her roses. My momma always had gorgeous roses too. One of the first things that I did when I built my own house was to make sure I made room for a rose garden of my own. Sadly, by the time that this happened my grandma had passed away, but my mom gave me some of her roses to start my collection. I have roses of all colors, all fragrances and all varieties. One may not know all of the choices that you have when picking out roses. I think this helped solidify the fact that roses are something that I truly love. To me, they mimic life so perfectly. Even though you have many different types, heights, colors, fragrances, each rose is beautiful and prefect in it’s own right much like we are as people. We may be different races, different backgrounds, different religions, different walks of life all together, we are all still unique and beautiful. And when put together, we make an amazingly diverse yet beautiful garden.

Every time I get out to tend to my roses I always start to think about how care and maintenance of my roses mimics that of my life. Not referring to all of the differences, but just to the rose in general. Roses require a lot of care and a lot of work to become strong hearty beautiful flowers. This is a lot like us. As an individual we have to give ourselves the same level of care to grow into strong healthy good people. In the early spring I start to prune my roses. I take off the limbs that have grown very far astray and the ones that are not looking healthy. This help shape the plant’s future growth for this period of the season. Now I’m obviously not saying for you to cut off a limb or even cut those stray bangs that won’t stay in place. What I am saying is that it’s good to take an inventory of the things that you have going on in your life. The Spring time is a time for new growth, both for plants and for people. If there are areas of your life that have gone way out into left field and it’s taking a lot of energy and focus off of other more positive things, it may be time to prune that area back. The main stalks of the rose are essential for fostering new growth and making a plant healthy. Our body and mind are like that stalk. We have to make sure that the main branches of our life are under control and not going out all crazy in order to keep us strong and focused on the important things. Sure, you can let the stray branches go, but what you’re left with is a plant that really has no control and the essentials for this plant are all over the place.

I also have to fertilize my roses. The way that I do mine may be different from you and that’s ok just as long as you take the time to fertilize them. They way I do my roses is that I sprinkle little pellets around the base of the stalk on the ground. These pellets are time released and they gently give more nutrients to the plant. This is also how I like to “fertilize” myself. I like to take time to give myself extra resources to get stronger and healthier. While you may think of this as actual food and nutrients, I think of this as things to feed my mind and my soul. I like to spend time reading devotionals. Sitting on the porch admiring the things that God has created and being thankful for the things that I have. This helps my mind to rest and my soul to fill. For you, this could be meditating, yoga, reading, writing, anything at all that give you some time to reset and to grow. But in reality, it can’t be just a one time fertilizer. It needs to be something that you can do slowly, that you can do over along period of time to keep you energized and whole.

One of the hardest things for me to do in regards to my roses is to “dead head” them. This means that you go to the bushes and you pull off the old buds that have bloomed and died and make it so the plant sends the right amount of care and nutrients to the buds that are still blooming or that are about to bloom. I don’t like this part as I don’t like to pull anything off of my roses. There are times when you may have to pull off a bloom that still has some petals. Every time I dead head my roses I always start thinking about the people and the relationships in my life. It’s imperative to pull off the old buds so that the plant knows that it needs to send more nutrient to the other buds and not keep sending them to one that’s dead. Our life is very much like this. Just like my roses, you should dead head the bad people and the bad relationships in your life periodically. It may be hard too, but there are some pretty clear ones that you know are damaging to you or that are really not that beneficial that you keep putting time and effort into. Actually, the ones that are dead are the ones that are easy to remove. It’s the ones that are almost dead and the buds that are small or damaged that are the hardest to get rid of. There are some relationships in your life that are there, and they are ok, but they are on the border of being toxic. That’s when you have to make the decision to get rid of them now and let the rest of your relationships flourish or wait until they fully die out to remove them. At that point, another bud or relationship may have suffered. When I see a bud that has a hole in it or that has been eaten, I wonder should I pull it now or wait to see if it I think it will make it. Sometimes in our lives there is a very new relationship that may have been tainted at the start. It’s at that point that you survey the damage and see if you think it will turn into something beautiful. There have been buds on my roses that have been damaged that have turned into gorgeous flowers, and at the same time there have been some that have been completely ruined and never fully bloomed. Those are the hard ones you learn to pluck off. You can’t have all of your time and energy and effort go to growing great relationships if you are sending valuable resources like your time, to ones that are already or almost dead.

Every single time I am out in my yard working on or just admiring my roses I am left with complete pride. I also get a sense of pride that I try to take care of myself the same way I care for my roses. The evidence of my time and effort can be seen in myself as well as my relationship with those closest to me. I hope that this little comparison makes some sense to you and that it gives you something that you can carry. At the very least, something you can think about next time you see a rose. And remember to always stop and smell the roses. It really does do the mind some good.