As you can see from the photo, there are four generations of Cheslers celebrating my birthday: great grandparents, Grammy (that’s me), a daughter, a son, their spouses, an uncle and even a cousin…and of course, the next generation: three toddlers and one in the oven. Wow! We had fun that evening enjoying each other’s company, some great food and most of all remembering once again that we are a family.
They say you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your relatives. I guess I am lucky because I would still choose the entire bunch. It goes back even farther than what you see in the photo. When I spend quiet time with either of my older grandchildren, Jonathan or Charlotte, I tell them funny stories, memories that I cherish of my grandma Sarah…their great, great grandmother. Like how she would swoop in and clear your dinner plate away before you were finished eating and have it washed and cleaned if you even paused and looked away. Cleanliness was definitely next to godliness with her. When Charlotte and Zoe get a little older they will enjoy hearing about how I watched my mom get dressed for a Saturday night out with dad (I thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor). When they were gone I would sneak into her room, try on her stockings, shoes and makeup.
My mom and dad are part of what Tom Brokaw called our Greatest Generation. Dad went from the beaches at Normandy through the Battle of the Bulge and by the end of WWII was stationed in the Pacific waiting to invade Japan. Somehow he made it back in one piece. Thanks to Mom and Dad, my brothers and I grew up in a “Leave it to Beaver” environment in North Hollywood. We all sat down to dinner together, travelled together (I still have the home movies with Dad’s thumb always getting in the way) and most importantly when all was said and done, even when we disagreed, we were there for each other, still are.
My children and their growing families are building their own part of our family tradition. They seem to be well on their way to doing it quite well. I believe that is because they had a solid foundation upon which to build. Our great communities here in the Conejo Valley and Santa Rosa Valley are only as strong as the diverse and loving families that hold it all together.