Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Growing Up Close!

I like this quote because it reminds me so much of holidays and Sunday dinners with my brothers and sisters, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mom and dad, Grandpa and Meme — as we called my maternal grandmother:

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

We had such fun together, such incredible fun. We all talked at once when we first got together as if we hadn’t seen each other in ages. Things never quieted down from there, but we did organize. We each had matching cousins. Somehow my mom and her sister had managed to have their children at about the same time. We each had a cousins in our same grade in school. Linda and I came the closest, the first-borns, being only one week apart in age! Now that had to be a little miracle! I think then everyone liked it and tried to keep it up from that time on. 🙂 My sister Suzy had Marnie, my brother Bill broke with tradition and had little Muffy for his twin cousin and my brother Scott had David. Then my parents separated and broke the streak — and my cousins kept coming with a delightful bonus: Danny!

Here is a recent picture of my beloved childhood playmate and lifelong friend…my cousin Linda and I at my brother Bill’s wedding this summer:

Linda and I

When I said we got organized at our family gatherings I meant we broke into groups and put together plays and entertainment for the grownups as we always called them! How this got started I’m not sure, but it was in our blood. My grandparents were both wonderful at acting, Meme in school and Grandpa was the best Scrooge ever in The Christmas Carol at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church for many years! We performed for their delight, praise, laughter and applause. And our parents’ too of course. Whose did we covet the most? My grandfather’s. He had the biggest, deepest, most wonderful laugh in the world. What a fabulous time we all had and the love was thick in the air! Of the nine of us, I acted in High School and College and my brother Scott went on to act professionally!

The bonus for me was that years later — when I was hospitalized for bi-polar disorder — that hit me at 9 months post-partum with my second child, Davey I had a this wonderful hugging bunch of people in my corner. Meme came to visit me nearly every day and brought me my favorite: red licorice. My grandfather was too sensitive. I cannot imagine he would have been able to see me in there, but perhaps he did. His heart was so tender that he wept when he said grace for our brood on Sundays and every holiday I remember. He loved us so much. So did Meme, but I think she was made of sterner stuff.

I’m so happy they lived long enough to see me happily married to Mike. We were a happy foursome for two years before my grandfather passed at the age of 83. He loved Mike. And why not? They are a lot alike! Tender-hearted family men who laugh and cry at the triumphs of their family!

My grandfather had many wonderful sayings. He loved to scramble words up and say things backwards like, “You’re feeling well, how are you looking?” And we would howl with laughter! His best one ever was after we had spent a glorious wonder-filled, laughter-busting-out-all-over hugs and love fest day together at he and Meme’s house he’d say goodbye with a big smile and tears in his eyes: “Come again when you can’t stay so long!” Hahaha Love you Grandpa! Next time I see you we will be seeing each other forever! 🙂 Love, Lib

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6 thoughts on “Growing Up Close!

  1. I have wonderful goosebumps from this entry!! You have such a way with words Libby! I feel like I was right there with you. There is something about living in MN that makes me all warm and fuzzy thinking my kids will grow up near each other and there will be little cousins everywhere…something I never had. You’ve lived an extraordinary life Sweet Libby! Blessings…

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  2. Oh Mimi! I hope and wish the same things for you! I’m so glad to hear you felt you were right there with me…so FUN to share these moments! It’s true my life has been extraordinary and there are many adventures ahead, such as writing this all down…Blessings to you my sweet friend of the heart and faith ❤

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  3. Another great quote, Libby! It fits so well. A run-on sentence, it conveys the impatient excitement mentioned therein.

    This is another heartwarming post, sharing moments of a family’s life, love and laughter.

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  4. Thanks Mark! To have warmed your heart adds blessing to my day! 🙂 I love what you said about the quote! I think that’s why it took me back there….so much energy! 🙂

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  5. Libby,
    I love this. I read back very far and I laughed and cried. Your story is wonderful and should be told! Your courage in telling it is inspiring. I love the quote on this post because it sounds like my family! You are a blessing and I can’t wait to read more!
    Hugs,
    ~Erin

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  6. Erin! Oh, I am so thrilled you are reading this! I LOVE your blog! http://mynuggetsoftruth.blogspot.com Just love hanging out on it and basking in the atmosphere you’ve created there…and the wisdom….WOW! Hugs to you, Libby

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