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Family & Community – Light & Shadows

By Carol Harrison

Carol reflects on how God has shaped her during the light and shadows of life. She also references her parents and aunts experiences as a broader family & community.

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Light and Shadows

Our lives have many pieces to them. At times these pieces blur together in a massive pile, waiting to be sorted out. At other times they blend together with similar colours, textures, designs. Two puzzle pieces which we all have are titled family and community. These two pieces of our lives include combinations of both the light and shadows of our picture. Both can offer support, great memories, encouragement but they can also introduce conflict, struggles and despair.

memoriesFather’s Early Life

I often tried to get my father to tell me more about his early life, growing up on the farm. His usual reply was, “I don’t remember.” Yet this man could tell me every vehicle he ever owned including the year he bought it, the colour, make and model. He told me about every semi-truck he drove during his career and the length of the trailers he pulled. As a youngster and into my teens he took me to visit friends and relatives that had been part of his entire life. He showed me where he lived but he avoided talking about the details of his childhood and growing up years.

Memories of Deep Shadows

A few years ago I took him to visit his sister. Both had lost their spouses and shared a deep shadow of life in common. My aunt started to talk about their lives as children and teens. She would start a story and then say, “You remember that don’t you?”

Much to her dismay, he often just shook his head and said, “Can’t say I remember that.”

But she never gave up trying to draw him into the conversation of shared memories. Finally he joined in sharing some memories. There were a few humorous stories but many reminisces contained times of deep shadows including a sick father, hard times on the farm and my dad having to be the “man of the family” at a young age. This helped me understand some of his reluctance to share and made me realize how he had blocked those tough things from his mind, focusing instead on happier occurrences. Yet they remained a part of who he was and they helped shape who he became as a man, husband, father and grandfather who displayed wonderful characteristics of hard work, being a good provider and his love of connecting with family and friends.

elderly womanMother’s Stories

A number of years before this visit with my aunt, I spent time with my mother as her health declined. In the months before my mother passed away she decided to share some stories from her childhood and youth. I had heard bits and pieces of them when I was younger. Her youngest sister begged her to record more details. She told us she did not remember many of the details. When she finally began the telling me more of the story, I discovered how much detail she truly remembered.

She had many shadows and hard times in her life, even as a young girl and teenager, but she also experienced the close connections of extended family, community and her church. I heard about the hard work she needed to do after her mother’s stroke when my mom was not quite eleven years old. But I also had the fun of hearing about the year- long travel adventure as a young woman she experienced as well. Everything that she experienced both good and bad, made her into the kind, compassionate, quiet person I knew.

Family & Community

Family memories include the community to which that family belonged or various ones they were involved with throughout their lives. Memories include the good, the bad, and the ugly along with the beautiful, tender and enjoyable.

shadowsMy children and grandchildren are now asking me to share my memories – both good and bad. I have to pause and remember how much I wanted to learn my parents’ and grandparents’ stories as I begin to share the stores and experiences that form my own puzzle pieces of life. I love to share the happy memories, the adventures we had as we lived in isolated Northern Saskatchewan communities in the mid 1970’s. But I hesitate to share some of the tough things that have also been part of my life and our married life. Do I want to give them details of less than idealic circumstances, poor choices or hurts? At times I would rather forget about them and yet through the shadows I have learned valuable lessons I may not have otherwise learned. These times of learning lessons are also important to impart to the next generation.

Shaped by God

I pause and think again of my parent’s reluctance to share their stories of the hard seasons, the shadows they survived. I know, like them, the light and shadows of the puzzle pieces of my life have helped make me who I am today. They have shaped me into the person God intended me to be. He has used all the pieces to create the unique picture of my life and by sharing the stories with my children and grandchildren they will get a glimpse into who I am other than my roles as mom or grandma. Maybe they will learn something by listening to or reading the stories I share.

What family memories do you like to share? Which ones would you rather bury deeply, forgetting they are part of what has made you the person you are today?

Carol Harrison

Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.

Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.  Visit her website

Images Courtesy Of:

Light and Shadow – bertvthule

Old tractor – DimitrisVetsikas1969

Dark city – Public domain

Elderly woman – Stocksnap

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