“Family comes first.” Hopefully in our time together you’ve heard these words come out of my mouth. More importantly, I hope you believe me when I say them. I’ve tried to be as accommodating, understanding, and empathetic as possible when it comes to appointments, time off, sick kids and parents, you name it, regardless of what’s expected of us at school. I can’t recall ever turning any request down or not finding a way for us to make it happen, because school will be here when we get back! If you’re like me though, you occasionally get stuck in a reflective loop about whether your words match your actions. Whether we are living up to our own standards. I’m not. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve realized that I’m failing in this area. With whom you might ask? I hope you don’t think it’s you, but I realized that it’s with myself. My family hasn’t come first.
I came in last Sunday (yes, Easter) right at 1pm loaded for bear but our school network was down, so no email, drives, or anything available. I texted the middle school principal group to see if anyone else was having the same issue. No response. After about an hour or so, I packed up and took the party to the home office. I didn’t even take my weekly selfie of me alone in the parking lot, which I’ve been doing lately to make myself feel better? When I got home, I thought to myself: Self, there’s no law that says the callout has to go out at 4 or that my newsletter has to come first. Sit outside. Enjoy some family time.
And this weekend? Welp, since I was going to be home alone, I decided to go see my parents in Alabama who I haven’t seen since Christmas. My dad is approaching 80 and they don’t travel much anymore (unless it’s a special occasion like a grandson’s college graduation in two weeks). My Dad said they hadn’t had me to themselves since 1976, when my youngest brother was born. I arrived on Friday night (after leaving right before school dismissal) to my favorite supper (corned beef hash, cabbage, and butter noodles) and a coconut cake. My mother’s maiden name is Cassidy and yes, we are of Irish heritage.
On Saturday, we drove around to all the old homes we’d lived in, talked about the old neighborhoods and neighbors, and had more cake and presents to celebrate our birthdays. My Mom’s birthday is Tuesday and we are ten days (+25 years) apart. We also went to the cemeteries of several friends, classmates, and teachers, saving our visit to my middle brother’s grave for last. His birthday is May 5th.
If I remember one thing about this weekend, it won’t be supper, or the cake, or riding up and down memory lane. As we were leaving the cemetery and walking back to our vehicle, my Dad was trailing behind, which is not uncommon. Even 80 year old former college football players struggle to get around. When I looked for him, he had walked back over to my brother’s grave to reach down and touch it before we left.
I’d never seen that. And probably will never see it again. But I saw it this weekend. Because family comes first. And just for the record…you’re my family too.