Sunday, November 26, 2006

Families . . .

I used to think that my mother's family was close. We had holidays together, they came together for birthdays, and we spoke on the phone. My grandmother passed away about 12 years ago She was a wonderfully witty, ornery and loving woman. I didn't realize until a few years ago that she was the glue that held our family together. After she passed, we started having separate holidays. One of my mother's twin brothers completely withdrew from the family. They began having their won celebrations. His wife, my favorite aunt, became a distant part of my "old" life. She didn't even see my children until Harrison was about 2 and I'm not really sure if she's even met McCartney. My grandfather with whom I spent HUGE amounts of my childhood with became distant as well. You see, my grandma and grandpa pretty much "raised" me. I lived with my parents, but I was ALWAYS at their house. They took me out to eat several times a week, I went camping with them almost every weekend, and even as an adult I spent a lot of time at their house. I was the eldest and the only granddaughter and when my grandmother was sick for the last 2 years of her life, I was obligated to visit and eat dinner there at least once a week maybe more. My grandparents were a large part of my life.

My grandfather spent about 5 years mourning my grandmother. Spending each and every day at he grave site "visiting" her. Then . . . he found a girlfriend. I only see him on Christmas and he doesn't even know my children's names. He always calls Harrison the wrong name . . . Benjamin. Oddly enough he tells stories about "Betty's" great grandchildren's escapades including names and ages. I tried to keep close, I'd call and visit, but he never reciprocated. Remarkably phones work both ways, he could call me as well, but he doesn't give me the time. It makes me sad and bitter.

My father's family hasn't been much better since he passed away. They don't call even when my grandmother was hospitalized with a heart condition yet they harp on me for not keeping in touch. They must have those same one-way phones that only ring , what are the odds? They don't call on birthdays, holidays and didn't even visit when my kids were born. I try to keep in touch, but I have 2 small children and a special needs child. Still, I call more often than they do. My aunts and uncles on that side are not exactly classy. I attended my great aunt's funeral a few months ago with my mother. My aunts and uncle were rude which didn't surprise me, but what did surprise me is that my grandmother was nasty as well. What exactly did I do wrong?

On a positive side, my mother was remarried 9 years ago. She married into a wonderfully close-knit family. They have excepted my brother and I into the family as if we always belonged. I went to my step-brother's house for Thanksgiving. The whole family was there. They are wonderfully kind, generous, loving people. I think of them as my own family. Thank God for people who still value family. They know me better than my own families. They send my kids cards on their birthday, visited me right after I had the babies, pray for us nightly, and call to see how we are all doing. They treat us like families should.

I am still wondering how to deal with my dad's side of the family this Christmas. I don't really want to go to their smokey, trashy Christmas after they treated me the way they did at the funeral. I don't want my kids to have to spend their Christmas with people they don't know and people who don't care to be a part of their life. My dad would understand that. I think I'm going to have to write a letter to my grandmother explaining my choices. I don't think I could make it worse.

Wow, what a lengthy kvetch. I will hold the memories of my family close. I will miss them and maybe we will come together again. For the mean time. I truly am thankful to be welcomed into a family that values one another. I am blessed.

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