Family biggest blessing of all

Published 10:22 am Monday, November 23, 2015

My nephew brought his family for an unexpected visit last week. His reason for coming was not a happy one. The wife of his dear friend had died of cancer. They came to attend the funeral.

As they headquartered from our home over the weekend, we bonded. In the process, I noticed two things. Tragedies make blessings stand out. Family is the biggest blessing of them all.

My sister Cecelia’s kids and mine did not grow up in the same town. As a result, we knew our nieces and nephews more by reputation than relationship.\

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Her oldest child, Bill, has always been a standout. He made good grades in school. After graduation, he earned a solid job and has been climbing the business ladder ever since.

I know a lot about this kid. I’ve been to his birthday parties and I’ve danced at his wedding. I know about him but I don’t “know” him.

At least I didn’t until he came to stay at our house with his wife and 1-year-old son. Over cups of tea, we looked through family albums. Bill is close to his siblings. I am close to mine. As it turns out, we have quite a bit in common.

He asked me about growing up in a big chaotic family.

“What was it like to live with so many?” he asked. “What were Gran and Papaw like back then?”

It was a bit crowded with six family members. He couldn’t imagine adding 10 more.

All the while, we took turns redirecting their toddler as he explored electrical sockets and low-lying cabinets. Bill’s wife, Claudia, who grew up in a different culture, threw in a few of her own family stories. By the end of the weekend, I knew all of them better.

At one point, we called our son and daughter-in-law.

“Bring our grandsons over. Your cousin is here.”

Pretty soon we had two dogs, three toddlers and four “30-somethings” filling up our living room. In a more tranquil moment, I looked over to see one of the young fathers reading a picture book to a captivated 2-year-old. It was not his 2-year-old. That made the scene sweeter still.

My grown son and I had a tender moment of our own a few weeks ago.

He and his wife manufacture a gluten free, grain free, low carb flour. They produce tortillas, cookies, bread, muffins, and pizzas by the box load.

Since we keep their kids, we get free goodies. In other words, I work for food. Knowing my affinity for baking, they have started bringing me bags of seed flour instead of baked goods.

I didn’t know how to cut down the recipe so Daniel gave me a baking lesson.

I tied on my apron and the clock rolled back. I remembered him standing on a chair at the kitchen counter. He spooned out baking soda. He cracked eggs. He stirred batter.

This time around our roles reversed. He was the one telling me what to do.

We added carrots and cinnamon. We cut back on sugar and vanilla. In the end, we invented a new recipe. It was fun to be creative. It was even more fun to have alone time with my grown son. When we sang “Do you know the muffin man?” so many years ago, I had no idea it would one day hit so close to home.

In just a few days, our family will sit around a table heavy with turkey and healthy breadstuffs baked by our kids. I won’t have any trouble recalling my blessings.

Steady work, a comfortable home. These are nice things that I never take for granted. Having two grandsons who live down the street? Those are the real blessings.

Do you have a cousin or an uncle you haven’t seen for awhile? An estranged relative who might be dining alone this Thursday?

Run to the phone and invite Uncle Harold to your table for Thanksgiving dinner. He may be a pain in the posterior, but he is “your” pain in the posterior.

Family is the biggest blessing of all.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more?  Donia’s  Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at