N and I were still newlyweds and living in my hometown, when my oldest brother, Chas and his wife Lynn moved up from southern California in the late 70s. Chas, with his electrical engineer degree in hand, had a plan (shared with his beloved) to buy a fixer upper and raise a family in the community where he grew up. The two of them found the project house of their dreams and settled temporarily into the family home - elbow to elbow with the folks.
The only recollections I have of those times are warm, fuzzy ones. Although, I did experience wee twinges of jealousy over how close the 4 of them seemed - cooking, shopping, cleaning and working on that fixer upper together (many of us chipped in, but proximity allows a more immediate ability to lend a hand). My new sister-in-law Lynn was (still is) the perfect fit with the entire family. There was never a moment when she didn't feel like a contributing member of the family - there to listen, to lend a hand, to share recipes and philosophies with. Like my brother, I too was head over heels with Lynn - another sister! What a gift!
Due to the changing economics of that time, N and I (and wee Lise, too) found ourselves pulling up roots in 1980 and moving for a job in Tillamook, Oregon. Both with and without N, little Lise and I traveled to spend as much time as possible with Lynn and the rest of the family. After 3 years, the family once again gathered to help us (4 of us now) move - this time to Roseburg.
Lise was getting older and providing more opportunities for me to make friends. Plus, Roseburg was the kind of friendly town that gladly welcomed us into it's population. The distance to family was greater and all of our schedules were getting busier. And so our time spent with family was reduced even more.
When Lise was entering 5th grade, N was transferred to Salem. It was the most traumatic move ever, for all of us. Fran's 2nd grade teacher would check-in with me weekly regarding how Fran was dealing with the grief of leaving a home, neighbors and the tight network of friends she had built over the past 7 years. It was heartbreaking to watch while going through my own feelings of loss - leaving dear friends behind (I was thrilled when our friends, Shirley and Dan, moved to Salem two years later!).
The positive part of our move was being closer to family, but after years of being away (as well as the changes in our lives) we never fell back into those patterns of spending time together. While we don't have that same connection to my hometown and my family, it feels good to remember those moments so clearly when we do spend time together.