On the Blessing of The Curse

Posted on December 27, 2011

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This past weekend, all six of my grandpa Bohannan’s children, all but one of his seventeen grandchildren, and his oldest great-grandchild gathered in Apple Valley, California to celebrate his 80th birthday on Christmas day. The older I get, the more I appreciate these kinds of grand family gatherings because you never know when (or if) the next one will happen. I grew up in Southern California around both sets of grandparents and the vast majority of my aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of my family. Being close to them throughout childhood and adolescence was incredibly important in shaping a lot about who I am today and many of the things about family that I hold so dear.

Now that I live in Denver- far away from nearly everyone on that side of the family- it makes get-togethers like the one we had this weekend truly precious. While this weekend’s festivities were centered around celebrating my grandpa Bohannan, the 35-or-so of us can’t truly celebrate him without celebrating each other; celebrating what it means to be part of the four generations under that roof that my Grandpa has proudly and lovingly overseen in good times and in bad. And the Bohannan side of my family can’t celebrate so much as a new pair of socks without what they call “The Bohannan Curse” making its presence felt.

I could write four or five blog posts on all of the great times we had this weekend- from the Sugar Cookie Showdown to the family church service on Sunday morning to the impromtu musical performances by a handful of us musically inclined folks and everything in between- but I want to tell you about The Curse. You see, my mom’s family has this reputation for being overly emotional and crying a river at the drop of a hat for almost no reason. For grandkids like myself who are really only half Bohannan, we all had a 50-50 shot of coming into this life with overactive tear ducts. If you were to look around the room during the good-bye sob-fest headed by our Bohannan parents and grandparents, I’d say that those 50-50 odds held true. Some of us grandkids never cry at these gatherings. Others of us cry occasionally. And then there are some of us who look like we’re on pace to outcry any full-blooded Bohannan before we collect our first Social Security check.

As I’ve gotten older, The Curse has gone from being a mystery to me to being a burden to being just a simple fact of my own life that for better or worse I’ve had to learn to accept. (As you could maybe guess by now, The Curse is strong in this one, and no matter how hard I try I can’t suppress it.) But this weekend, I think for the first time, as a 30-year old man, I was thankful for The Curse; thankful not so much for the tears themselves as I was for what they represent in my life. Thankful that I am connected by blood to an immediate and extended family that causes my heart to fill up with so much pride, joy, happiness and love that my heart has to convert the overflow of emotions to tears so my heart doesn’t just burst inside my body. Thankful to overhear and be a part of tear-filled goodbye hugs and precious verbal exchanges between aunts and nephews. Nieces and uncles. Sisters and brothers. Cousins and cousins, grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children. Thankful to know that as the oldest grandchild reminded us all this weekend, even though we may go long periods of time without seeing each other these days, there is no love lost between any of us. Ever.

I wish the teenage version of myself could have known what I know now. The Curse isn’t actually a curse at all; it’s merely my soul’s response to some of my greatest blessings. And if crying like a baby is the only price I have to pay for experiencing the profound levels of love that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience though my family during my time on this earth, then I should consider myself blessed beyond measure. From this day forward, I have no other choice but to fall to my knees and thank my God for each and every “cursed” tear that falls down my face, for the feelings and experiences that cause them to fall, and for the genetic knitting that was done in my mother’s womb that doesn’t allow me to hold them back.

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Posted in: Faith, Life