There was a period in my life when my own goals, dreams, and the achievement of them were all that my attention and focus were on. Part of achieving my goals required me to be away on ocean-going super tankers all over the globe for six, eight, or ten months out of the year.
My choice of college was the USMMA, the United States Merchant Marine Academy. No, not West Point! No, not the Naval Academy! Similar to the big name service academies, upon graduation from the USMMA you owe at least five years of active duty in the military. Or, in my case, working aboard US Flag Vessels in the Merchant Marine, plus years as a reservist.
It wasn’t that my love for my family didn’t exist.
Family was important to me when home for visits with my parents, aunts, grandparents, uncles, and cousins. Then, I’d be off to another voyage for months at a time. I vividly recall visiting with one of my classmates from the USMMA and his wife and two young children. He had recently returned home from a six month seagoing stint. His children were still petrified of him. Barbara, my buddy’s wife, explained to me that it would take the girls a few weeks to grow comfortable again around this strange man. They were not certain who he was!
While driving home from this visit with my wife, we discussed how I must be involved with our children’s lives when we started our family. I couldn’t imagine being a parent when the distance would impact our relationships with each other so dramatically. The next step would be putting actions into place. It would take being intentional.
One day, many years later, while watching my children interact with other kids at the playground, it became clear to me that one of my obligations as a parent was to instill in my children why they must be intentional in their relationships with each other and their family.
Here are a few thoughts of family and what family means to me:
F – Familiar: In that we all really know each other, don’t we? The good, and the bad.
A – Appreciation: In as we age and see each other learn and grow, doesn’t it bring a smile to each of our faces?
M – Memories: are recalled of course and more importantly new memories are created.
I – Intentional / Individuals: Each of us are individuals, our own personalities attest to this fact. We must be intentional in our efforts throughout the year to appreciate and let each other know how much we love and care for one another.
L – Love: each other. Say it, mean it, and receive it.
Y – Youthful: What we feel as the younger generations are born, and begin to question, and bring their energy to the table. How can we not all feel youthful in their presence?
Treasure your family first!
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