My father died when I was six years old. But I remember him and the stuff we did as a family.
He was the type of parent who liked making memories with his children. He liked going to the parks, to the beach, to visit friends and relatives. He liked spending time with people, building relationships, and in the process introducing his children to friends and relatives.
I remember he used to bring me often to see our relatives from another town. I was around five years old, and I loved going there because I got to play with a relative around my age. I looked forward to our visits to their place because I loved playing with her in her grandmother’s garden and I remember enjoying watching their goldfish.
When my Dad died and my mother got busy with raising four children we stopped going to see relatives and friends. You see, my mother was left with four hungry mouths to feed, she didn’t have time to build relationships because to her our survival was more important.
But growing up I thought about my relative slash playmate. I remembered how it felt visiting their place, how happy I was playing with her, how nice she was to me. I remembered her name and promised myself someday I will look for her and maybe see her again.
Fast forward to around twenty years , social media came along. I scoured through my relatives’ profiles, their friends, and contacts. I remember finding a relative with the same name but when I met her in person I didn’t feel that it was her. She was very nice too but I felt like she didn’t recognize me or remember playing with me. I told myself maybe we just grew up. And so I thought the friendship with my playmate was already gone and forgotten.
After a few years I stumbled across another relative’s profile with the same name and a face I kind of recognized. I sent her a private message, and as weird as it sounded I asked if she remembers playing with me when I was five. To my surprise she responded and told me she remembers me and how my dad would bring me over so we can play in her grandma’s garden. I found her!
She was already living abroad so we didn’t have the chance to meet up right away but we kept in touch.
When my mother died she was one of the people who reached out to me and listened to my woes. She was part of my support system at my lowest point in life. After a month she came home and we met up. She listened to me and grieved with me. She was one of the few people I depended on emotionally while I was dealing with the death of my mother.
In a few months she will be getting married and my daughter will be her flower girl.
Why am I telling you this story? Because you see, the seeds that my father planted decades ago grew.
My father made sure that he build me a tribe, connect me with people, allowed me to build relationships as early as possible, so when he goes I’ll have people who’ll stand by me.
Both my parents are now gone but the tribe that they have built around me is the reason why I still have a strong support system even without them.
As parents we have to realize that we won’t be with our children forever. As much as we want to be with them and take care of them for as long as they live, this might not be possible.
We have to build our children’s tribe, make sure they nurture relationships, with friends and family so when we are gone from this world they will still have a strong support system who will help them deal with life. And deal with losing you.
As much as you maybe dread the coming Christmas season, the season of parties, reunions and get togethers, you have to go to each and everyone of them not just for yourself but for your children.
You are not just reconnecting with long lost friends or relatives, you are building your children’s tribe. You are building their support system. The little playmates they will meet in one of these reunions and parties might be the people who will help them deal with the pain of losing you someday. Because you can’t live forever, someday you will have to go and leave them.
And when you’re gone who will your children depend on? Who will they run to for support?
So go out there and visit your friends and family, do this not just for yourself but because you need to grow and strengthen your children’s tribe.