Families

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I’m a bit behind, as last week’s travel got me all mixed up and behind on sleep. But I’m getting caught up and glad to be back writing here again. I’ll post more about my trip, but wanted to get back into the daily posting routine as well. 

Tonight Ron’s family got together for dinner. This is something they try to do on a regular basis, although there is no set schedule. Usually someone decides that it’s been too long and sets up a time and date. And then whomever is able to make it comes and they all hang out and catch up.

Things have changed in his family since his mother died several years ago. There’s no ‘big’ holiday get-together anymore. These informal family lunches or dinners are some of the few times we see some of his family members. We’re busy, they’re busy – it’s just the way life goes. But it’s nice that everyone makes the effort to get together when they can.

I couldn’t go to dinner tonight. Ron and Finn went. But Hannah had to work, and Becca had soccer practice. By the time I dropped Becca off, there just wasn’t time to make it across town and back. But that’s ok – hopefully more (or all) of us can get there next time. And it’s good that there will be a next time.

On my side of the family, it’s different. Ron has 3 siblings (1 full, 2 half), all with their own families, and all of whom live either in town or close by. His father lives in town, as do two of his aunts and assorted cousins.

I have 3 siblings as well – also 1 full and 2 half. But we weren’t raised together, since my older siblings are 18 and 20 years older than I am. They raised their kids at the same time that my younger brother and I were growing up. My older brother lives several states away, so we don’t see him often. And my older sister has disowned our side of the family for many years. I haven’t seen or talked to her in over 30 years, even when our father died 4 years ago.

My younger brother and I both still live in Michigan and we’re still close. He lives a couple of hours away, but we try to get together a few times a year and to talk in between. But with both of our parents gone now, it’s been strange. Our extended family doesn’t live close by. And for so many years we were mainly just focused on our parents. Together we made up the ‘sandwich’ generation, except that I was the one raising kids. And my brother was the main caretaker for each of our parents because he lived closer and didn’t have a family of his own. I still carry a lot of guilt that I couldn’t do more to help.

There is only one person in the entire world who knows what it was like to grow up with my parents, in our house. And I am the only person who knows what it was like for my brother. Not that we had exactly the same experiences, but I know that he understands. And he knows that I do.

As I get to the point where my own kids are going to be heading out on their own soon, I wonder… What will our family get-togethers look like over the years? Will the kids stay close to home or spread out across the state, or even the country? Finn will be leaving for college in the fall, but is staying in Michigan. And will actually be living near my brother, so it will be good to know that he’s there in case of any emergencies. We have 2 more years before Hannah graduates. But she’s already decided that she is only going to look at schools out of state.

I want my kids to follow their dreams, even if they’re led farther away than I’d prefer. I can only hope that they’ll stay close, both to us and to each other. And that they’ll still make an effort to see each other. Whether for holidays or in between.

Maybe at least for an informal dinner here or there.

(Top Photo – my family at our wedding (l to r) – my former stepmom and my dad, me, my mom, Ron, my younger brother, my older brother and his wife)