Thursday, May 26, 2011

Family Ties

I'm sitting on the deck feeling a cool breeze, listening to Vivian cooing in her swing and Daniel sitting in the time out chair...
"ahh done na Mama? All doonnnee!!!"
Summer is upon us and I am finding myself struggling to come back to life with the rest of nature.
There has been plenty of drama recently, and for this past month I've not been writing I've mostly been stuck in the past.
I can't sleep and don't want to write... but I know that if I do it will help. Then maybe I can get back to my usual writing.
Its hard to write this way about something so personal, how to get it out without saying to much?
I will forgive you if you stop reading quickly... 
this may not make much sense to anyone but me and my family.

My grandmother passed away and so many painful, ugly memories from my childhood have been dragged to the surface just by having to attend her funeral. I swear I have been dreading that event since I was in high school,
I knew that it was the one last thing that would force us awkwardly back together again.

If it weren't for my father I would like to think I would have had the guts to just bail on the whole thing. But I'm glad I went... I think.
I feel like I learned something valuable.
There are two side to every coin.

This woman laying the casket was little more than a stranger to me even though we shared a roof for half of my life. I didn't feel she loved me in a deep or real way, I always felt in someways like she was indifferent to me for one reason or another... I can think of a lot of reasons but this isn't the place for that.
But seeing how some of my cousins reacted to having to say goodbye made me realize that there must have been a genuine love between them.... why did they get that and I didn't?

Was it her fault? Her children's fault? My own fault?
Most likely it was and unknowable combination of all three.

It was like it all happened yesterday, like I'm a teenager again losing most of my family to an ugly and impossible situation... one where no one can win or find any value in "being right" because in the end the damage is so severe it could take your breathe away.

It moved me to tears realizing that it was too late now to ever know what might have been if I had laid it all bare and asked her what went wrong and whether or not it could ever be made right.

Whether I could someday stand next to her and read as her grandson did about his genuine sorrow over losing her, his beloved Grandmother.

Truth be told it has been to late for a long time, she hadn't known much of reality for years.
But death is such an incredibly final nail in the coffin of the dramatics and fighting in that family that it is hard to stomach.

It seems to me that an all out battle is so much easier on everyone than the cold long silences and  passive aggressive behavior that has been going on for years.

I wanted so much in that church to play the old silent home movies I had seen of these five siblings from nearly forty years ago and ask them all...
what had happened to this family flickering on the screen?

Because I feel like I've never met them.
It seemed that they were friends, and they cared for each other.

They were smiling and laughing.

They were standing at the beginning of they're lives.
Before husbands, wives, children, illness, jealousy, bitterness, lies, money and death would drive them apart.

There in those old movies was a family I would have liked to have been apart of.
Here in reality is the painful results of people just being people, paying little attention to God's advice to love one another as we love ourselves.

I didn't set out to write this, but I am glad I did because in the end everything I write here is for my kids.

So her you go guys.... what you can learn from this...

love each other and put each other first.

Do all you can do to build and keep strong your relationships.
Even in little ways. Yesterday Tommy, Bella was sick and you went and got her a blanket because you were worried about her.
It was a very small thing that meant a great deal...  keep doing those small things.

Weigh your words and actions in light of the long run, not just how you feel right now.
 Action is much different than reaction. One is thought through and the other is just acting on emotion.

Your emotions shouldn't dictate your behavior.
Always ask yourself how you would want to be treated and then act that way towards your siblings.

 Don't feel entitled and try to see everything you get in life as a blessing.
Don't try to figure out who has gotten more from us. Don't keep records of favors.
And even with all this advice about being kind... don't be a martyr or a doormat.
Speak up for yourself before you become bitter about something. 
Before you've stewed about it for days or years, 
before you have let time and hurt warp your perspective.

 I could think of a lot more to say but I'll stop here. I am not trying to preach to you, I am writing this as much to myself.... probably more.

 I write out of fear and you will know why when you have your own children...
because I see you now all together laughing and running through the grass of our backyard, racing to your swing set, dropping helicopters off of your tree house, blowing on dandelions and making wishes.... and while you wish for ponies, ice cream, and new nerf guns...
I wish so very much that you could just stay this close always, to each other and to me and Daddy.
 Right now you are little and it seems easy since you always follow our lead.
But I wish, or rather pray,  that we could be this family always, trying to love each other as we love ourselves, as Jesus showed us, sacrificially.
Sometimes you will need to sacrifice your pride, your time, your right to free speech, your wants,
to keep the peace in this family... to demonstrate love...and that is as it should be.
That is how we learn to love in just a small way as God loves us.
I think living in that kind of love together we could get a glimpse of Heaven on this imperfect earth.