Tomorrow we return to South Carolina for a visit. My family has lived in the state since before the Revolutionary War and I lived in places like Spartanburg, Charleston and Columbia as a boy. I return often to visit family and feel fortunate that I have two states that I can call home: Oregon and The Palmetto State.
But this will be my first return trip to Southern Carolina with both Fran and Rock, my grandparents, gone. It is, frankly, disorientating to think about being back without them there. They anchored our lives. Now they are part of the Great Cloud of Witnesses from our family - Velma, Betty, Evelyn and Steve, my father - to name a few. Truly, a generation has passed on the maternal side of my family and on the paternal side of my family we've lost the last two generations of our family to tragedy.
Nonetheless, I am so excited to go back again. I love every chance I get to be back in South Carolina. And there is a new generation in our family (that's how it works, of course). My children and the children of my sisters and cousins: Dylan, Hannah, Devin, Ian, Frances, Katherine, Taylor, and Sawyer. We get to share with them all the wonders and beauties of this state that our family has called home for over three hundred years - stories that have been passed down to us from our great-grandparents (I knew them all on the maternal side of the family), grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and older cousins.
As we're in Charleston and Columbia this week, I can again share stories of our family with my daughters and show them the places that were special to me as a boy. One of the greatest memories I have as a child is the time I spent on the beach with my mother and then later summer trips to the beach with my sisters and cousins and extended members of the family.
None-the-less, I'll also continue to mourn those that have gone before us and who gave us so much. Rock died just this March. Fran passed away in late 2003. I can hardly imagine a time when I won't miss them. I give praise to God for the gift of their lives and know that part of them continues to be with us as we raise the next generation of our family. We can only hope we do as good a job as they did for us.