A month ago, my son Noah pulled a hamstring lunging for a forehand while playing tennis after work with a client and friend. His opponent drove him to our house a few minutes away to assess the damage.
All of us discussed the injury, and I suggested we call Keith, a doctor and friend of 30 years, to diagnose it. “Risa, ask him if he’ll come over,” I proposed. I handed her the cell phone to call. It was dinnertime on a Monday in July. I figured there was a good chance we would find him at home.
“I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” he said, and he was. He diagnosed the injury and told Noah he didn’t need to go to the emergency room. We pulled out the Elasto-Gel cold packs always waiting in our freezer. Keith stayed for a while to talk. The conversation shifted back and forth between discussing the injury and pizza restaurants in Chicago.
Noah stayed at our house several days, and our business client spent the night as well, which turned out to be a great chance to get to know him better.
When Noah called his wife to tell her about the injury, she was astonished that we could call a doctor and he would interrupt his dinner and immediately drive over. Noah explained that Keith was a close friend and a member of the community. It was just natural that he would do it.
I remembered that 13 years earlier Keith drove 60 miles to be with Risa and our family when I was drugged in a hospital bed, teetering between life and death after a heart attack and stent, struggling to gain the strength to undergo quadruple bypass surgery.
Risa had taught Keith’s daughter for many years before she succumbed to a horrible genetic malady. She was more than just her private teacher. She was virtually a part of her family as the child suffered crisis after crisis, yet maintained her spirit.
When I had my second grand mal seizure three months ago in Palo Alto, my daughter, Sarah, called a doctor friend at midnight to come over to check me out and lay out my options. She arrived in a couple minutes, though I don’t even remember the visit. She arranged to get me into Stanford hospital with a minimum of rigmarole. It’s what people who are a part of your community do for friends.
I am writing this piece not to enumerate Graff family health emergencies, but to discuss friends, family, and community that are becoming harder to come by these days as we forsake organizations and tribes, religious institutions, sewing circles, and men’s baseball leagues that used to pull us together over long periods of time.
We also move more and further away from each other, which dilutes communities and tribes. Screens also deprive us of personal contact that in-person meetings and dinner parties and barbecues used to irrigate.
Kids teams were excellent meeting areas for parents and children, but today sports have become more specialized. Parents hook their kids up with personal coaches to help them get college scholarships. The best players are siphoned off into elite amateur teams so local parents lose the incubating arena for long-term friendships.
Families used to be mini tribes, with big weekend dinners prepared by a matriarch. With women working almost universally, there is little time and energy to devote to pulling families together in that way. These days, young men and women use their independence to move away from the fold.
I am grateful that our immediate family got together for a week recently in South Haven, Michigan, after almost two years of separation. The great feeling of having the tribe together, not on Zoom, was a blessing.
Family, community, games at almost midnight. No substitute for it. Especially when it seems so rare today.
Question: When was the last time you got together with your family in person?
Unfortunately, we don’t all get together with everyone at the same time, same place. It’s not emotionally safe for several members due to recent revelations in the family.
Many of us are still reeling from the revelations, working through it.
Time will heal, hopefully.
That sounds really difficult. I hope your family is able to work through everything.
Yesterday! I had all four of my grandchildren here along with one of my two sons and the wife of my other son. (Other daughter-in-law and other son were earning the corn!)
We make a point of renting a big house at least once a year to get everyone together for a week. The best of times!
love South Haven and Clementines! and ya gotta get your ice cream down the road too…
We spent a lot of time at Sherman’s, best ice cream place around. Some of the crew went every night. Even ordered a Blue Moon float.
I never stopped getting together with Family. In fact I told a restaurant upon reopening that we’d be in the same both every week, and I wasn’t planning on calling to reserve. They have respected my request. This whole Covid garbage has been about creating fear in the populace so they can control you. There is no reason to live in fear.
Why do you allow a government bureaucrat dictate how you choose to live in this great country?
I haven’t seen my mom or sister for 2 years. I’m in Ohio and they are in San Diego and Seattle so it is tough to get together in a normal year let alone 2020 and 2021. The sad thing is if you add up all the time I have left with them in person assuming we get together 1 week a year there really isn’t a lot of time left. Everyone should count their time they can spend with family in person as a precious gift regardless of how often it happens.
Eric,well said. I really try to savor the moments together. They are really elusive. Lloyd
Last Sunday my wife and I got together with my mom, dad and a long time friend for a little house warming party at our new home. It was great to gather around a meal together again. After dinner we got to strip down a jack fruit my wife got at the local asian market and had a good long visit and all learned something new together. My parents are in their mid eighties and are being super careful to stay away from the general public.
Ya gotta do the get togethers…. as the crowd keeps getting smaller.
Just returned from our 3rd annual family fishing trip to Alaska.
It’s my Wife, Daughters, Grandson, step
Grandkids, Son-in-law, Sister and a couple Cousins from Boise mixed in.
The trip is always a great time.
We Will be doing it as long as the Family is Able.
It’s more needed now more than ever and everyone really enjoys the companionship and fishing in Alaska is the Cherry on Top.