Friday, November 27, 2015
Yesterday was Thanksgiving and it made me think a lot about family. I am very fortunate to have two wonderful sons. They are very loving, very sensitive, generous, caring human beings. I am extremely proud of both of them and the lives that they have built for themselves. Having said that, I feel the need to explain why that is such an accomplishment. You see, they didn't have the benefit of an extended family. No cousins, no Aunts or Uncles. Not because they didn't exist. Quite the contrary. There were four Aunts and three Uncles. All of which had 2 to 5 children themselves. My youngest brother and myself were both adopted. So, all but one of the Uncles were not raised with us. However, at the age of 15 I found my birth family and discovered that I had in fact known them as a child because I was told they were my 'cousins.' We would play together on the weekends....then, all of a sudden that just stopped. No explanation given. Just never saw them again until there was a death in the extended family and there they were; at the funeral, all grown. From that point on, I tried to be a part of their world, a part of their life. Often times it felt forced and awkward. But, I ignored it. To me, they were my family. I hadn't abandoned them nor they me so, why shouldn't there be a relationship? But, so many years had gone by. They were just enough older than I to be in a different stage of their lives. While I was in high school, they were getting married or were already married, starting families or already had one.. I liked seeing my nieces and nephews. But, it soon became apparent that I was not 'included' in things. Birthday parties would be planned and unless I happened to drop by on the actual day of, I would never have known it. I would ask if a niece could spend the night and be told no. I would ask if I could take them out with us for pizza and the answer was always no. It was like, no matter how hard I tried to build a relationship and be close with this next generation, it just didn't happen. And so, my sons, were never allowed to get to know their cousins. They barely remember the few times they were around them. What slowly became obvious was that, my "life style" choice obviously didn't match theirs. So it was no wonder then, that I was shunned from those family functions. In turn, my children were shunned. Even my youngest brother that I was actually raised with shunned us and my sons. The only time he would have anything to do with them was if he wanted to have company for his wife's nephew when he visited. Or when, after he had adopted a son, he wanted someone to come and play with him since they lived out in the country and there weren't a lot of playmates around. To give you an idea of how he behaved; our adopted mother would of course invite both our families to Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. Being a single working parent, I often couldn't afford nor did I have the time to cook an entire Thanksgiving or Christmas meal so, we would all meet up at her house on the appointed holiday. My brother and his family would often arrive after we were already there. Sometimes, they didn't even bother to eat so, why they came, I don't know. But, whether we arrived before or after them, the outcome was the same. My brother would literally lie on the couch as if he were sleeping. Then rise, eat and leave without ever engaging in a conversation or saying so much as 'boo' to me. This went on for many a year until I was finally able to do my own holiday. As the years rolled by, my youngest brother's marriage (as well as the marriages of my two other brothers, ended. All my sisters wound up divorced and remarried except for one. I say this only to show that they were hardly in a position to throw stones at me.) My adopted father passed away leaving our mother alone. It seemed she quickly became my responsibility so naturally, during the holidays she was invited to my home. However, it didn't seem that way. In her mind, I was cooking for her and as such, she felt she could invite anyone she wanted to my home to eat. That being said, here come the brother that never spoke to me, in to my home where he again, ignored my sons, ignored me, barely ate and left. Finally, I said no more and told her. She then refused to come at all...instead I had to carry a plate of food to her house where she would eat alone. Fast forward till now. That brother passed away not long after she did. My other two brothers...one is in Nevada and the oldest one right here in Florida. They sort of speak on Facebook. I say sort of because it is never anything to personal. Mostly postings about their beliefs and politics which in a nutshell reconfirm what I've always known, and that it that 'my kind' should have zero rights and privileges and if possible, be eliminated from the earth. With that being said, you can imagine how I felt when my own with a heart of gold, reached out to my oldest brother in the way of a birthday wish in which he jokingly stated that he had missed his birthday but, doubted at his age he would notice and then continued on with what he thought was funny. My brother on the other hand felt it was 'critical humor' and immediately and unceremoniously blocked him on Facebook. No explanation, no warning, nothing. Of course, I called to find out what had happened. He launched into a tirade when I called him about how he felt it was inappropriate humor that he just 'didn't want on his timeline' and how if it were his son, he would have done the same thing. Of course, I laid it on thick that my son was 'hurt' by his actions when in truth, it was I that was hurt. My son, having never really known his Uncle, and going by how the ONE Uncle he did know behaved, imitated him. Whoops. But, as misguided as that was, my brother's behavior was over the top and boarded on being dictatorial. I came away from the conversation feeling like in the long run, he did both my son and I a big favor. We may have gone on for years thinking he was some terrific person when in fact, he is an ass hole. It is amazing to me that I could have two brothers, not raised together and they are both the same in a lot of ways. I am not even going to be surprised by what the third brother ever does. In short, I am very thankful for my two sons and my three grandsons. More importantly, I am thankful that as time marches on, people I have thought of as "family members" are showing me that they are anything but. I am thankful that I don't have to continue this lie anymore and can appreciate the unselfish love of my friends and church and yes, my family of choice.