But in all, they gave dimension to my recollection about my family, and it struck me again, as it has from time to time in these past fifty years, that no matter where life takes you, it is your family that is your foundation, the core of what you are. Though I had no pictures (I thought), I still have vivid memories of family events, the good and the bad times, and the familial “nuclearization” that has occurred to most families as children grow up and move away as it did to mine.
We live in a world with stress and pressures unknown five decades ago. Technology and social media have changed our lives. But the role and importance of family cannot be lost to us … and we need to do more to reinforce that, and cherish what we have, and remember with love and respect those whom we have lost.
On Sunday 11/16/14, I will journey to my parents’ gravesite and remember them and our family. I visit them more than once a year, but always on the 16th or 17th of November. This year, bolstered with new memories and recollections triggered by a single document and pictures thought long lost, I will have more to be thankful for, and a loving caring family is at the heart of that. It was never perfect growing up, but it was always full of familial love.
It is ironic that family was so integral to our lives in the last three months of my father’s life. On September 17th 1964 he danced with his niece at her wedding … danced without use of cane or crutch using his prosthetic leg, the result of losing his left leg to diabetic gangrene only six months earlier. It was a grand and HUGE wedding with all of the family there. On October 17th 1964 Dad threw my mother a GRAND 30th wedding anniversary party, with hundreds of family and friends attending.
And thirty days later, on 11/17, he died peacefully in his sleep.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral. Family and friends — and until then, I never really got the scope of HIS nuclear family in law enforcement. He was a DC policeman for 25 years, and had friends in virtually every state and local and federal law enforcement agency you can imagine in and around Washington DC.
My best friend became a Montgomery County policeman because of my father’s influence on him. THEIR support in the following days was as critical to us as the support of our blood kin. And thanks to them, I learned more about my father and his achievements in 25 years than I had ever known before.
No matter the road we take in life, it all starts with the common base — family, family by blood and friendship.
Let’s not forget that, or our families, as life takes us on our journey.
Gabriel D Odonkor