Family bonding

It was a wonderful time of bonding with my daughter, my son, his wife and my grandson. No thought of work or household chores, no rushing on tight schedules, from me, not even a gentle nag about blogging. Just leisurely enjoying the time with family. Just letting the hours chug by with interesting conversation, a good deal of catching up, and lots and lots of eating.

We decided to pamper ourselves with staying at the hotel for the long weekend. My son and his family joined us at the Claremont at Berkeley, mainly for its swimming facilities and dining on the balcony-patio that overlooks a picturesque scene of the lower valley bordered on the horizon by the bay. The evening was most spectacular. The panoramic view from the restaurant’s patio or from windows of our sixth-floor room showed shimmers of lights  from the Bay Bridge, homes and industrial buildings in the distance. The night sky was clear that time, with Venus reigning bright amongst all other tiny sparkles above. Extraordinary location, weather and food – spokes in the wheel for mammoth fun that long weekend. But the driving force of that special moment was family bonding.

My son, his wife and my grandson joined us at the pool in the afternoon to evening. My daughter swam 25 laps the full stretch of the pool’s lane of Olympic-length. She was happy and invigorated. That’s what she chose Claremont for, to do her swimming laps, a routine she schedules every week at the Atlanta athletic club. My nearly nine-year-old grandson and his father completed some laps, too. I heard my son coaching his son on certain techniques of swimming. I heard the two laughing together. I saw them race together as they breast-stroked from one end to the other. It was a heartwarming feeling to see father and son bond as they luxuriated at the pools.

There was more bonding among us three women. While the two males of the family explored other components of the pool facility as the jacuzzi and the large, main center pool, my daughter, daughter-in-law and I relaxed by the poolside, discussing issues and trends in social and political correctness. It was most interesting for me to listen to the views of these two very strong women, each impassioned by social attitudes and norms that impact relationships, status and justice. And as I listened to them, my eyes turned to the children’s pool, where mothers and fathers sat in the big circular cement basin filled with one to two feet of water. Water continually flowed from five water spouts that gurgled out strong splashes that children loved to put their faces to. Parents dutifully watched their toddlers gleefully play in the water, sometimes grabbing their cheerfully shrieking kids and laying them down in the cool current of the shallow waters beside the spouts, just having the fun time of their lives. It was at this point that my heart all of a sudden broke. I remembered what I witnessed on television — the cries of the children in the detainees’ camps at the border, sorrowful wails of little ones despairing to see their mother and father. There at the pool, I was hearing happy chirps of little ones’ voices, but in my heart, I heard the lonely cries of the children separated from their parents. I whispered a prayer and a hope for their reunification.

Does this happen to you sometimes, that when the moment brings you delights that infuse such gratitude and joy for your blessings – at the back of your mind is the nagging thought that there are others in the community, in the world, who may not be enjoying the same pleasantries. That happened to me at Claremont’s poolside, as I looked around and saw happy families playing with their children. Then I looked at my family, thoroughly enjoying the activities and each other’s company. I was so thankful for our family bonding. But my heart also ached for those that may not have the same blessings, who feel no cause or reason for laughter, who see no light on the horizon, but the dark clouds of despair. Feeling helpless for them at that moment, all I could do was pray and hope.

A realization magnified for me at that instance of quick reflection, in the midst of lively chatter, loud splashes of water from swimmers’ dives and maneuvers, and rapturous shrieks of children at the pool – the sobering thought crept up … we all are connected, whether cognizant of it or not, we all are of one family. The human ties bind, and we need to care – to bond; there are myriad ways to do that, even from a distance.

Linda P. Jacob