Sunday, July 13, 2008

Family Reunion thoughts

Even the best of families have their demons.

But first the good part: We had a great reunion with a great family. Of the 5 siblings families represented we were missing only ONE of our 11 children. For the first time ever 10 of our children were together and my kids were reunited with a cousin they haven't seen in 10 years. It was wonderful. We missed #11 a lot, but the cousin who came said it definitely won't be so long before we see him again. If you are reading this Billy - I am proud to be your aunt. Or aunt-in-law or whatever you consider me.

We got to see first hand the insidious disease that alcoholism is. This family has suffered the effects of this disease for many years, as their oldest brother committed suicide under its effects and his clinical depression. He was a wonderful man. He did a terrible thing. Family members still do not want to talk about it 23 years later. His nieces who never had the chance to meet him want to know how and why, but they want to know him and hardly anyone will talk about him. His absence is felt every time.

If it ended there, I suppose it would be okay. Others concern us greatly and have for years and it went from laughable to just tragic as we watched the effects of alcohol each night. It is heart breaking.

I am not a tee-totaler by any means. I like a good margarita and a great glass of wine. I had a taste of a pretty good margarita and some really great wine. But I remained sober and played lots of board games with my absolutely fabulous nieces. I love these girls. Including DD, we ranged from 15 - almost 30, only missing the 35 year old niece. We also played poker and they are much better than me. I lost a lot of M & M's.

One niece in particular wanted answers this weekend. We talked to her and was honest. I felt choked up as I realized that these girls feel like something is missing. I remembered being a child and missing the fact I didn't have grandfathers. I always wanted to know them and my parents shared with me about their father's so I felt some connection to them. It probably wasn't my place to have this conversation but this child is 17. DH and I shared. His son shared a little too. I think it was good. I was hoping it would open up into something more on a spiritual level.

There are so many things I could talk about concerning this reunion. We loved hosting it and loved being with our whole family. We laughed a lot and cried a little. We hugged and watched videos and ate too much. We took a great trip to the mall (well, just me and my girls) and baked brownies. We were a family for at least a few days and it was great.

2 comments:

Robin Lambright said...

Every family has some level of dysfunction. Mine would require a fleet of moving vans if you factor in both sides of the family and throw in the DH’s side well that might require a trans-Atlantic cargo carrier to haul all that baggage.
My family does not do reunions, so even with that underlying unspoken heartbreak you all had the opportunity to reconnect and share each others company. I’m sure it was wonderful.
Isn’t life amazing, the heart yearns for the missing things in life? If we do not know God we have this yearning to search for that thing in our lives that we can not define.
I think it is the same for the situation you described. These young ones have a yearning to seek what is lost and you helped to fill in the blanks for them. No one likes to acknowledge the 1000 pound gorilla in the room, it is so much easier to side set around it. Sounds like a Stephen Ministry Continuing Education Topic (ha ha).
We have a very similar situation with my DH brother. He is currently going through chemo (second occurrence of his cancer and his second round of chemo) and at our last family gathering over the July 4th holiday it was so sad to me. Here is this man who may possibly not be around for very much longer and his children and one of his siblings could not even bother to show up to eat a hot dog with there dad. His daughter did show up sporadically, but no sooner had she satisfied her hunger she was gone off with her friends. One of his son's showed up briefly but as I looked at him I saw no recognition in him of the reality of the situation. I find it all very sad.
Why is it that family at times is harder than friendship?
Since my sister moved to we have gone from speaking every other day to maybe speaking once every other month. It isn’t for lack of trying on my part. I know I could try a bit harder, but after all the times I try to call her, it is the 21 century for heavens sake and the child does not have an answering marching, and she will not retuned a message left on her cell phone either, well after months and months of being ignored it simply is very difficult to continue to reach out. My mom does that very same thing.
You remember when she was taking care of my grandmother and how much she whined about never having time to spend with her grandchildren because she had to spend all her time taking care of her mother. She resented having to take care of her own mother. Well my sweet grandmother has been dead for many years and I can count on one hand the number of times she has made time in her schedule to spend with my children or even picked up the phone to call her grandchild.
Family, a loaded issue (as you can tell, with me any way) for so many of us.
I am glad you had a wonderful fun reconnecting with the people you love. I am also glad that you and your DH stepped out and shared with those who were seeking answers. I know it made a difference.
Love ya Girl!

P.S: I take my Margaritas on the rock with a salted rim and I’ll have a nicely chilled Pino Grigio thank you very much.

skoots1mom said...

I believe ALL families struggle with dysfunction, it's called original sin. It made me curious though about AA's 12 steps. So, I went to look at their list and made a very abbreviated bullet list, cause I can absorb it better in small snippets.

*admit problem;

*believe in Power greater than self;

*turn will/life over to God;

*take moral inventory;

*admit wrongs;

*ready for God's removal of defective character;

*ask God's removal of shortcomings;
list persons harmed;

*make amends to those people;

*continue taking inventory admitting when wrong;

*pray/meditate with God, pray His Will/power to carry out;

*carry this message to others;

*practice these principles in all our affairs.

Yes, I believe I need to use this as my daily guide to my own behavior.

For a full version, see: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-step_program#The_Twelve_Steps)