Our students have been on their own this summer, fending for themselves, because the Deans had pressing family business. The essence of what we preach at the Academy (gracious life well lived is a life where you don't look back and have regrets) was borne out to us every day for the last three months.
Our trajectory's were different. One of us was invited into several people's families and one of us was tending to her own. Between us we experienced the full gamut.
The three things we learned:
A major family reunion is well worth doing, even if it's just once.
What's needed is major planning for meals and activities. To feed multi generations buffets are a must. An after dinner surprise of fireworks, music, or even a magician goes a long way to making the event truly memorable. Somebody in your family has artistic talent, we just know it. Ask that person to design a T-shirt or baseball cap as a permanent memento for the occasion.
If you were born into the wrong family of origin you can create your own idyllic one.
As we travel down life's highway the Deans have met several people who are not close to the people to whom they are related. This is through no fault of their own; it's like putting a square peg into a round hole. The Deans advocate you stop trying, and build your own family through your friends. There is no need to make a formal declaration of cutting anyone out of your life, the Deans never espouse cruelty, but if something isn't working there is no point in endlessly trying. There are people you just click with, and by circumstance you are able to spend unstructured time together and lots of it. You live in a dorm, you have young children that need occupying, or you are bonded through a similar circumstance, such as a divorce.
When one of your parents is dying spend as much time as you can with them, since the time is short.
This might seem like the most obvious thing we have ever said, but you will never regret spending too much time with a loved one. Once they are gone it is common to regret not having spent enough time. This is a special time when listening is of the upmost importance. A dying person wants to tie things up, so this is not a moment to change the subject or allude to false hope that this is not happening.
Bonding over Food: Chicken Pie: feeding the body and soul.