Connected through Books…Related by Blood

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“Hello. This is Meagan Frank from Books Make a Difference. I was hoping to connect with you this morning for the interview, and now I’m wondering whether I have the wrong time. I’ll try back in an hour in case I had not accounted correctly for the time zones. Thanks. I do look forward to talking with you soon.”

“She’s not there?” My husband asked from his adjacent desk that sits less than five feet away from me. He seemed hesitant to break the ordered silence. I had shushed him and built up the importance of the phone call, and as I relaxed from my interview posture, I turned toward him.

“I don’t get it,” I said,”I could have sworn this was when we rescheduled it. Maybe she got hung up with something, or she’s still not feeling well.”

I re-checked our email exchange…an ironic part of the whole story…and felt assured that I had at least remembered the appointment the way she and I had set it. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself.

I had looked so forward to my interview with Susan Maushart, and now I was wondering whether it was going to happen at all.

I left my ringer on and headed to the kitchen. I had managed to ignore the morning mess in my preparation for the call and now I found myself walking aimlessly through the room with an unsettled energy. What I did next made me laugh out loud. I went to the laundry room and took out the broom and dustpan. I started sweeping my way through the minutes of waiting.

“How ironic,” I thought, “I’m waiting to get connected to Susan Maushart to talk to her about her book The Winter of Our Disconnect and I start doing Wifework.”

It was in the pages of Wifework where I first came to know about Susan’s work. I don’t remember exactly how I grabbed her book off the library shelf in Monument, Colorado, but it was one of the titles I took home during my rather aimless search to save our marriage. That book became the source of one of the biggest fights my husband and I have ever had. She had the research and the data that explained part of my malaise and frustration in our marriage. I was doing too much of the work around the house, and it was not the work I really wanted to be doing. When I brought up this fact to my husband, I think it included the slamming of a basket of laundry and a launched pair of socks. Laundry has never been the same in our house since.

I was telling people about this eye-opening book, and I think it was at a family gathering I learned she and I are relatives. Somewhere far up the family branches on my grandfather’s side of the tree, (if I’m reading the family tree branches correctly) her great-grandmother and my great-great-grandmother were sisters. I like to think it might be a partial explanation for the way her work resonates so completely with me.

So when the editorial team for Books Make a Difference was meeting to discuss possible stories for the magazine, I mentioned Susan’s latest project that included unplugging herself and her three teens from electronics for six months.

The story was approved, and I set out to connect with her via Facebook, email, website…and eventually smartphone. Hmm.

When I called her back the hour following my first attempt, she and I laughed about the fact she had not picked up the phone because she hadn’t recognized the number on the caller id. As I worked through the interview questions, I remained cognizant of the cosmic connection of both books and blood. I remain grateful for both. You can see the resulting article here: “Susan Maushart: Living Deliberately by Unplugging“.

In another time and place our paths would likely never have crossed. She jets back and forth from New York to Australia, and I flit from midwest town to midwest town landing regularly in Colorado for the summers. I probably would have found all her books on a library shelf eventually. Maybe we would have bumped elbows at a family reunion, but I am fairly certain if we had crossed paths in some other way, we would have somehow ended up connecting deeper through books too.

                         

www.meaganfrank.com

Copyright 2013     Choosing to Grow                         Meagan Frank

Family Reunion…A Celebration of Marriage

There was a migration of hundreds of McGuires last weekend, and all because of Richard P. McGuire and his wife Margaret.  Every five years, the family descends upon the small farming community of Wisner, Nebraska.  The weekend is spent  connecting with immediate and extended family, relearning or being introduced to the history that defines us, and feeling genuinely connected to something much bigger than any of us.

At the Sunday Mass, a couple from another branch of our family celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.  We were all witness to the renewal of their vows, and for me, it was one of the more touching moments of the day.  Sixty years!!  Are you kidding?  It reminded me that no one in that room would have been sitting there had it not been for the decision by Richard P. McGuire to marry Margaret McMahon.  In six short generations, there are enough people to fill an auditorium every five years.

The family operates on a constantly changing bell curve.  The older generations are smaller each time while the younger generations often grow with marriages and children.  The generation pictured below is the fourth generation.  This is the group that should include my dad, but he was not there and, barring a miracle,  he will likely never be able to attend another one of the McGuire reunions.  For me, my closer connections are my dad’s four brothers.  It is through them I feel woven into this group.  It is through them that my son learned about who his grandfather used to be, and it is though them that I will forever have pride in my Irish family.

I don’t imagine that R.P. and Margaret were perfect, nor that their children led lives free of mistake, but I took several minutes over the weekend to look around at the room they had created, and I couldn’t help but to think that they had done something right.  They loved well enough, they passed down a strong pride in heritage and the people in that room had an air of open generosity that is well-worth celebrating.

My brother, (pictured below) and his wife are expecting their first child, and he/she will be the only “McGuire” baby in my immediate family.  As my brother stood and contemplated the headstone of his great-great grandfather, I said a short prayer in thanks for all that marriage can do.

The marriage of my great-great- grandparents is ultimately responsible for my children.  How could I ignore what that means?  I am so grateful for the willingness of this family to continue to gather.  How else could I foster in my kids the kind of pride that encourages Big Sprout to sport an “I’m proud to be Irish” button while embracing his second-cousin-once-removed (or however he’s related to the son of my dad’s first cousin)?

It was a wonderful reunion and I think we all feel a bit more grounded after the McGuire reunion weekends.  I recognize the miracle of those who remain and continue to want to organize, but I celebrate the power of marriage to do wondrously miraculous things too.