Gathering the whole family together is a rare treat

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

Had a special time at the Chiri house this past week.

We actually had all the kids back home at once, and even both of the grandchildren. Very nice, I must say.

For any of you folks who have large families, such as us with four children, you learn how difficult it is to ever get everyone to gather together in one place again, once they all leave home.

We still have one child at the house full time, since Mikey is only 12 and has a few years to hang around.

But my three daughters have left and are now scattered around the country, although—thankfully—not too far away.

Chrissy, the oldest, is now working in Opelousas at a newspaper where she is the sports editor, meaning our little grandson Jerry Scott III is barely over an hour away. And oh yea, her hubby Jerry is OK to have around also.

Jenny and Zach are still stationed at Ft. Hood in Killeen, Tex., with my very special granddaughter Abby, who is now 2, although that is going to change in November when they get moved to Virginia. Not good!

And of course my little Vicky, the baby girl to me even though she is now 19, is still going to school at Middle Tennessee State University near Nashville, meaning she is the one we don’t see very often.

It hasn’t been a problem getting the two married daughters with their husbands and our grandchildren to come home. For that matter, it almost seems like someone is at our house most of the time, so we have not come close to feeling lonely and missing the kids.

But I have missed my little Vickers, or Bugger, as I used to call her.

What is with this nickname thing? We all do it….I mean everyone who has ever been a parent. The nicknames just happen so easily, and usually there are more than one of them.

But I digress.

Vicky flew in on Tuesday for what was to be a short visit with us, but still a nice chance to have her around. I really love my little Vic—something has always been special about her to me. She’s so different than the other two and has a personality that seems so easy to love.

Even now that she is certainly grown up, and a sophomore at college, she is still the little girl of the bunch and we love it when we have a way to get her back at the house again.

So there we all were on Tuesday night…dad doing a BBQ and of course we had to use the BIG dining room table to fit everyone there. How great it was. I remember saying a blessing before the meal and just thanking God for the big family he gave to my wife and I. Yes, we all have plenty of trials and challenges each day, but everyone is safe, everyone is healthy, and here we had a wonderful chance to have them all back in the house together.

One thing I love about my girls is that they all really like each other.

Let’s face it, you can have sibling problems, especially as the kids grow up and get older. And I’ve seen far too many siblings who end up not really too close, and certainly not worrying if they get a chance to be together.

But just as much as my girls seem to love coming back home with “Papa and Grammie,” I love the fact that the girls all love being together. We don’t have to beg them to call each other, or to want to see the others. Quite the contrary, there isn’t too much time that goes by before the girls are talking about trying to get together.

Tuesday was a perfect example. Chrissy and Jerry had just finished moving to Opelousas for Chrissy’s new job at the newspaper there, and I know she was beat. But when she knew that the only chance for the three girls to be together was for her to get in the car and drive back over to our house, she did it.

And even when she got there, she suddenly found out she had another day or so before all the paperwork was cleared for her new job. Knowing she didn’t have to start work on Wednesday, she suddenly decided to stay the night.

Of course the girls all slept in the same room, just as they had done when they were kids. We used to have so many nights when my daughters all wanted to be in the same room sleeping together, and even as adult women, they still love the warm feeling of doing that again.

My wife was feeling very good this week. I know she loved the simple fact that all the kids were together under her roof again. She knows it won’t happen that often. For that matter, she has a habit of saying to the kids when they are together,  “You know, this could be the last time all of us are together for a very, very long time.”

We all laugh even though she truly means it.

And we laugh since we know that if there is any way, anytime, that the girls can all gather back together—coming home to see mom and dad—that they will do it.

Chrissy was about to come into the house on Tuesday evening as she and I had been in the driveway doing some work with her car. Abby’s box of chalk that she uses on the concrete was on the edge of the garage and I saw Chrissy go up to it.

She picked out a piece of pink chalk and wrote “I love Dad & Mom” on the garage floor. She didn’t know I was watching, but it all reminded me that we don’t have to worry about whether they want to come home and spend a few days with the folks now and then.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at