A visit from family is something to cherish, or is it?? This past week I had the pleasure of having my brother's ex-wife visit me here in Utah. In the 15 years that I have lived here, she has not made it here yet. However, I believe that she is now a fan of our beautiful state. Her visit got me to thinking about how my family life has evolved over the last 10 or so years. I am one of five siblings, the youngest in fact. My siblings are spread out all over the United States from Oregon clear across to New Jersey and South Carolina. We also throw Arizona into the mix. There is a reason we all live in different states. In fact, there are several reasons why we all live in different states. That could be the subject of another blog.
What I started to think about while my ex-sister-in-law was here, was how I define family now. For starters, she is on paper my ex-sister-in-law but in the heart and on the phone, for all intents and purposes, she is my sister. I have known her since I am 12. She could tell stories about me that even I didn't know. I appreciate her, I cherish her and we had the best visit ever. It got me laughing when I introduced her to folks. We look nothing alike, but I introduced her as my sister. You see, my biological sister is someone that I have nothing in common with except being born to the same parents. I haven't seen her in person in years and I know for a fact that she probably gets her information about me from my niece who is on Facebook with me. My niece rocks, she is an interesting young lady who appears to have more of my traits than my sister. I pray that someday soon she moves out West so I can get to know her all over again.
Family these days, according to most of my neighbors and friends, is a mix of biological and self-made. I love my Park City family (friends). They treat me with more respect than I get from most of my siblings. I cherish the time I spend with them. I enjoy it. I have more in common with them than I do my own family that I have known all my life.
I once read a book called, "Why Do I Love These People" by Po Bronson. I highly suggest it. It is a great read. The sub-title is Understanding, Surviving and Creating Your Own Family. It's like he wrote this book just for me. Now don't get me wrong, my family has it's good traits. But I am the "different" one. If you are that one in your family, you will know what I mean. I am the one who is out there seeking the answers to why we operate in certain ways. I ask the questions that nobody wants to talk about. You can imagine how well that goes over.
As I get up there in years, I have come to the realization that society imposes quite a few "rules" for how a family operates. I think that Norman Rockwell's famous painting of family dinner probably did a number on a lot of us. Holidays are now defined by this painting. How many times does real life look like this? I know for a fact, that it's been a very long time since mine has.
It's taken me a long time to get to the realization and knowledge that you pick your family for a reason. Some folks even say that this happens prior to birth so that you can come into this life and learn certain lessons and hopefully correct some things. I am a believer in this. There are days where I go, what the hell are they trying to teach me? It all gets back to the basic messages of unconditional love and letting folks live their own journeys. It takes patience, and giving up the need to be right. Just because I operate one way doesn't mean that I should expect anyone else to operate the same way.
There are days where I get sad because I don't have one of those families that pack up and meet all in one destination for a week of fun. In fact, a few years ago my sister tried to make that happen and 98% of us said no thank you. When I was speaking with my "sister" this week, I said that I have resigned myself to knowing that it's going to be one of those see everyone at the next funeral type of operations. However, I also remember that I do have a "family". I have assembled my own with child, friends, neighbors, etc. I have gathered a tribe with similar interests who boost me up and encourage me to be my greatest self. I love, love, love this.
“But none of that really mattered. I had found my tribe. It felt like a family reunion for the family I'd never really known, a homecoming at the place where I was always meant to be but hadn't known how to find.” ― David Levithan, Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
Until my next adventure,
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