Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Large Family

I come from a family of nine children, all of whom are still alive and doing well as far as I know. Growing up in our family home created lots of fond memories. Sundays were the best. Since I was next to the youngest I had older married brothers and sisters who had families of their own. Every Sunday they would all come to visit and I would play outdoors with my younger sister and all my nieces and nephews. If it was raining we would play board games inside, or watch tv while all the grown-ups would get in their groups; women in the kitchen talking and men usually in the living room around a card table playing penny-ante poker. It was the same way on the holidays. Everybody was happy and felt close to each other. It was like that until my mother died.

Eight days before my wedding my mother died suddenly, changing forever our close-knit family. At first everyone was in shock and disbelief. She was the glue of the family, being a very warm, caring, inviting mother to whom everyone turned when they had a problem. It wasn't that my father was any less caring, but mom was the one who was always there for us while dad worked at two jobs for most of his life plus kept up with the farm. For me, those days and weeks after mom's death - even my own wedding - were spent in a daze. My father, who had lost his life partner, took on the responsibility of giving us a warm, caring shoulder to cry on, and at the same time being strong enough to hold it together himself, telling us that mom was in a better place and not to be sad. If he wasn't before, he became my hero then, facing that hardship with such strength and faith. But he wasn't mom, and in the months that followed a drastic change took place in the family. Suddenly there were no more Sunday get-togethers, instead, just a few people dropping by the house to see how dad was doing, and maybe fixing dinner for him. Dad was like me, a quiet man. He had opinions which he would expound on at length, given the chance, but small talk and conversation starters were not things he excelled at. It was awkward, I think, for us to go back to our home and try to be cheerful when such a large void had been created with mom's passing. So gradually we all drifted apart, only seeing each other on holidays and weddings, until even that became a hassle with the ever-expanding families harder and harder to round up due to work and prior commitments. When my father passed away and the family home and belongings had to be divided up it was almost like cutting the last branch of the family tree. Not that we don't talk to each other, but we rarely get a chance for all of us to come together to catch up on each others' lives.

I really miss those family gatherings, and truly wish times were like those of my youth. My family was my nest to come home to and be protected and loved. Although my wife and I have built a somewhat smaller family I hope that my children will feel that they are part of a unique, caring unit, and maintain that feeling into their adult lives.


Blogger Sheryl said...

Found your blog though your comment on my blog. Thanks for the kind words and good advice!

I just have to tell you - after reading this story, you could be my dad! His story was remarkably like this. He was one of 8, his mother died two weeks before he married my mom, and after that, the family drifted apart. His dad also worked two jobs and had a farm for a while.

Funny how small the world really is.

9:32 PM  

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