Yesterday was extremely stressful at work and when I got home nothing seemed to go right either. I sat there battling a horrible headache trying to sort out why for some reason parsec was not streaming at all. I had to jump through a bunch of hoops involving restarting the clients on either end of the connection before finally returning full service. On the positive I now know the best way to restore functionality of Parsec has just gone south on a box… but on the negative it took practically all night to reach that point. To make matters worse… the evening culminated with a bit of a fight with my mother that I am at least in part going to talk about today.
On Monday night my last remaining Great Aunt passed away and I had been expecting to hear from my folks as to when the services were scheduled. While I have fond memories of Aunt Lucille, she isn’t exactly someone I had seen regularly over the last decade or so. When my Great Uncle who was the blood relative passed away, it halted a lot of their coming up to visit other family that I did see more often. That is just sorta the way of your related family, is as various linkages disappear so to do the get together that surrounded them. This is a reality that I guess the pragmatist in me has accepted this reality far better than I probably should have.
Where the source of the spat comes from… is not necessarily the Funeral but instead the family reunion that was scheduled for this same weekend on my father’s side of the family. She has been trying to tell me about all of these people that are coming… for example one individual she was trying to convince me that I had met… she eventually realized was last seen at my parents wedding. This is where the conflict kicks in because in my mom’s mind the fact that you are related to someone trumps everything… and makes it immediately important that you drop everything you are doing to placate them. For me the fact that I may see them once or even twice in my entire adult life… makes me question if they are even really family?
I mean yes I understand heredity and relationships so we don’t need to go into a discussion about that. What I mean instead is why should I invest any emotional resources in caring about a bunch of faces that ten minutes later I won’t remember any of the names that associate with them? For me family is more the people you interact with on a regular basis and can count on, not some third cousin twice removed that my mom once remembered seeing at a reunion when my parents were still dating. Again this is where I differ from my mother and became a great source of frustration, because I simply do not believe that blood is thicker than literally any other connection out there.
You can’t choose who you are related to, but you do get to choose the people that you make your family. So the people that I record AggroChat with every single week… those are family. The neighbor down the street that we’ve been close with for two decades and literally cleaned up my blood after the human sprinkler incident… that is real fucking family. Rae who moved to Tulsa from Ft Smith Arkansas to take a job in my department… and has since moved on to bigger and better opportunities… is real family. The little man around the corner from us who walks with my wife every night for a single blocks length… and occasionally cooks meals for us is absolutely actual and legitimate family. All of which I have a real tangible connection to that isn’t blood related but is far more real and important to me than some random stranger that I am told should mean something more to me than they ever will.
So ultimately I am wondering… am I just odd in the way that I make my familiar connections? Is this a generational thing and there are others out there that are more like me than are my mom? My wife and I had a discussion about this and she theorized that once upon a time folks simply didn’t move far away from each other so it was very easily to get back together regularly… and in an era without free long distance and facebook people made more of an effort to do it on a regular basis. I mean on some level the blood family that I think about of being family… are all within a few hours of where I live right now. However I have to admit I don’t really put in the effort to see them on a regular basis.
We used to do this thing among the members of my generation, where we had dinner out on a regular basis and in truth we probably need to start this up again. I do really like my cousins that also live in the Tulsa area and we tend to get along swimmingly… but at the same time we are all also very busy with our own lives and careers. With the existence of social media… it gives the illusion that you are spending time together that sorta salves over that feeling that you should really see each other more often. Maybe it is simply because my wife and I met through IRC… that I consider internet communication methods to be just as real as face to face ones. Whatever the case there is a significant difference between how I view family and how my mom does.
So I am curious… how do you my readers out there define family? Are you more like my mom or are you more like me… in finding family in your closest relationships regardless of heredity. The truth is I will be taking my mom to the funeral and then driving her to the reunion afterwards… since they are on the same day. Regardless of my personal feelings… it is important to her and I want to make sure she gets there safely given she has fallen quite a few times lately.