Some things don't changeMy parents raised six kids in a very small house. There were eight of us in a three bedroom;  one bath ranch in the sub-burbs of Pittsburgh. The girls shared a bedroom and the boys shared a bedroom; we waited in line for the bathroom. We were crowded, but we managed. My most memorable years were the 70’s and early 80’s.  Sunday was the family day.  The usual routine was to go to church, have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and watch the Steelers play football.  We really were not any different from most families; we had our fun and we had our conflicts.  But there was a closeness that only an Italian-Catholic family could understand; a closeness that remains many years later.

I recently returned to Pittsburgh for a family visit.  I’ve been back annually since moving to North Carolina in 1984, but there was something very different and special about this particular visit.  My father no longer lives in the house in which we grew up.  He now lives in a much smaller house, and although I’ve been to this house many times, for some reason I was struck by the simplicity of it.  My father was never one for upgrading to fancy or even more modern styles.  As long as it worked, he was happy.  He still has many of the material things we had growing up such as his recliner, the silverware, even my mother’s favorite cast iron frying pan.  I guess some things just don’t need to change.

Perhaps it is this simplicity that contributes to the closeness of my family.  In reality, we all have very different lifestyles and our routines and priorities are far from simple.  The geographical distance between us prevents us from seeing each other very often.  Yet when we come together, our complicated lives seem to fade from focus, and we experience the closeness we had growing up.  For one week there were five of us sharing a two bedroom, one bath house – girls in one room; boys in the other.  We were crowded, but we managed.  Now, I must take a moment here to be completely honest.  We are close, but we are also a bunch of loud Italians.  Just like it was 40 years ago, there was the chaos of everyone talking at the same time, bumping into each other because there was no room for all of us in the limited space, waiting in line for the bathroom, no privacy, and no peace.  It was a good visit, perhaps one of our better ones.  During this visit I was reminded of some very special moments we had many years ago.  I am very thankful for my family.  I’m thankful for the memories and thankful that so many years later we still love and care for one another.  How wonderful it was to experience and share that kind of love and grace again.  No, some things just don’t need to change.

Be devoted to one another in love.  (Romans 12:10 NIV)