May Reflections: On Family
Families can be a blessing, or they can be a curse. Families can build up the individuals that make the whole, or either intentionally or unintentionally cause hurt that fragments the whole. Families can pull together during times of stress and/or tragedy, or they can splinter. Families can support and rejoice with each other during times of joy, or they can not see the importance of doing so.
I have seen some of my own family members be disappointed and very hurt by those who are their family. There has been tears from the hurt, there has been anger over the constant disappointments and let downs, there has been righteous indignation over "how could someone who's supposed to be family do something like that...........THAT'S NOT WHAT FAMILY SHOULD DO!" I am saddened to say, there has been some deletion of phone numbers from speed dial and phone books. I also consider us fortunate, as that is NOT reflective of who WE are and what we stand for as a family.
The importance of family is at the very core of who I am. I have had excellent role models with this, in that my parents always ensured the family was central (with God as the number 1 priority). My children (which includes my in law children) and my husband are the centre of my world. My parents are my mentors. My brothers and sisters (which includes my many in law sisters and brothers) are my closest friends. I love my many nieces and nephews as if they were my own and would not hesitate to support them in any way when necessary. We are not a "huggy kissy, sit on top of each other" kind of family, but boy are we there for each other when needed.
The closeness of my family has never been so apparent than the last many months. Jennifer thinks nothing of giving her brothers a place to crash when they need it, or dishing out "sisterly advise" when needed. The boys just have to look at each other, and they burst into giggles without saying anything. As Jason put it at his wedding.........brothers forever. When I recently flew home for my Nana's funeral at the last minute, the kids all made sure I was well taken care of. When Bruce and I flew home for the wedding (yes, Ontario will always be home), Kevin & Jenn thought nothing of asking Bruce to help build a deck while we were there. They just knew it wasn't an issue, after all, that's what family's for, to help each other.
My own brothers and sisters display that same quality. As soon as everyone heard about Jason & Alyson's wedding, trips were booked. Representation from every family was present. Some of those individuals who could not make it called Jason during the reception and spoke to him via cell. That little gesture had a huge impact on both he and Aly. Between the family shower, the rehersal dinner and the wedding, different family members stepped forward to help in whatever way they could. The icing on the cake for me was when we all hooked up for breakfast the morning following the wedding. Although due to distance we don't physically see each other very often, when we are together, it's as if we all see each other daily. It's always a hoot.
I don't think I was ever as proud of my family as I was 2 weeks ago with Nana's death. All my siblings made it home (for some it was a comedy of errors, but we all made it). Dad was a rock, and might I say a "hero" under the circumstances. Mom did a very difficult and brave thing by staying with Nana full time to ensure her wishes were fulfilled. Dad put out to everyone that Nana wanted a band to play at her funeral. 14 grandchildren and great grandchildren showed up with instruments. 2 of her grandsons and 3 great grandsons took their instruments to the internment to play. I could go on and on.
Needless to say, the more that time goes on, the more I realize how fortunate that I am. My children who are married have each married into families where family is key. I truly am blessed, as I have a family that has always been, is still, and will always be supportive of each other. In a world that has become increasingly more global, increasingly more self centred, and in a North American culture that does not promote extended family closeness and support, we are becoming a rarity.
Here's some of my recent family pictures since July (oh ya, I cheated a bit, I have some of Cathy's in here as well)