Separate, Yet Together by Ginger Keller Gannaway
Separate, yet together. Family, right? We may live a 1,000 miles away from each other. We may talk to each other once a month or only on holidays. We exchange emails and Facebook check-ins here and there. We could even be estranged or separated by death or illness, yet these family members run around our minds all the time. For me, they crowd my thoughts and dreams and truly shape who I am now at age 59.
Two years ago I spent several weeks in my small Louisiana hometown with my 90 year old Momma and my 88 year old Dad. During my visit I went through several cardboard boxes filled with black and white photographs. One 4X4 picture of Momma and me really depicted the separate yet together idea. In the photo I am about 4 years old and staring straight into the camera. I’m wearing a sleeveless summer dress with smocking. I have a full, fat almost babyish face and shoulder-length wispy hair. I am not smiling and I look so, so relaxed and pensive. I’m leaning back into Momma’s arm draped around me. Momma gazes off upwards to the left. She wears a sleeveless, small checkered blouse and her short brown hair is combed back from her face. She too is unsmiling and has a faraway, content look. Her arms loosely encircle me. We seem comfortably close and at ease with each even though each of us is occupied with her own separate thoughts.
Even though today I am far from that fat-faced girl, and Momma has passed away, not a day gets by me without memories of momma grabbing my attention and reminding me of her constant, unconditional love and how it shaped me into a mother of three grown sons who rule my world and hold most of my love.
Family. They may build us up one day and destroy us the next, yet they are with us so often, even if not physically so. They may control our thoughts and drive our actions and surround our hearts in both hurtful and helpful ways. I was so very fortunate to have a small blue-eyed Cajun momma from Ville Platte who had a heart bigger than all of Louisiana, especially when it came to her children. Every day I leisurely lean into Momma’s arms, and I face my current day’s activities with a form of independence that is supported by her love.