Family stuff—kind of a rant

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for this long-winded post but I have something on my mind that needs to escape! I did my best not to disclose anyone’s identity but if any relatives reading this would like to add their perspective, I would welcome it so please add a comment.

I have volunteered to plan a family reunion. I have a huge family on my mom’s side. My grandparents, Ethel and Alfred, raised 21 kids (no multiples)—don’t you think that should be a record in the Guinness Book? Take a high level view of our family tree. I have a bazillion cousins—no lie! I know many of them but there are lots I don’t know. Since I’m one of the grandkids, I have tried to track down many of my “missing” cousins. Maybe I have a different perspective considering my mom’s in the middle of the pack so I grew up knowing a lot of my relatives. Some of the other family has been sort of disconnected… some due to distance; some—I’m assuming—by choice. The people who don’t want to be engaged with the family make me wonder why… I just don’t get it. Some of the fondest memories are hanging out with my cousins. Even after we moved to Oregon, I would ride the bus up to Seattle to visit during the summer. And my cousins would come down and wreak havoc (just kidding) on the little town of Scappoose.

Anyway, back to my point. I have become quite an e-detective and have actually tracked down quite a few people. Some haven’t responded so I have sent numerous email messages and may resort to snail-mail and picking up the phone! I guess since I love my extended family so much I can’t imagine that others would feel any differently. I got a response from one cousin a while ago. He wasn’t really a blood relative and he didn’t wish to be contacted. I wonder if he was adopted though. Okay, I can accept that since the parents were divorced and he was really a step-cousin anyway and he didn’t grow up knowing us. The other cousin was a blood relative who I remember meeting once a long, long time ago. When she was young, I think they went to live with their dad and never saw their real mom again. She sent me a note today and I was a little saddened to learn that she and her siblings had no desire be in contact. Gosh, that seems so strange to me. I got the impression that she felt she was being respectful to her immediate family by denying her bio-mom’s fam. I wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t feel that way. I didn’t. I didn’t tell her anything about her mom or her other siblings but I wanted to. It killed me not to. I wanted to tell her that her mom is battling a serious illness. I wanted to ask her what she thought was wrong with this part of her family. I wanted to say, do you think it was right that your dad kept you from knowing your mom? But I didn’t I was gracious and left the door open for her if she ever changes her mind. I didn’t give her my blog address (which I almost always put in my signature line). I told her I was glad to hear that she was happy and healthy and living a full and rewarding life. I told her I didn’t mean to invade her privacy. And I thanked her for responding. But I still don’t get it.

Our family is a bit crazy but everyone has so much value to me. I can’t imagine not knowing them. I suppose if I had grown up not knowing them, maybe I’d feel differently but I doubt it. Who wouldn’t want to learn about their heritage? It’s not like you have to start coming to every wedding and changing Christmas and Easter traditions. Who wouldn’t want to hear the family stories? Such colorful characters make the stories so entertaining (someone should write a book)! And we’re not getting any younger. I want my daughter to know where she came from. Oh, well… I will just have to accept things the way they are. I’ll let people know about the reunion. If they choose not to attend, it really, truly is their loss.

I am so looking forward to attending a family event this weekend. My uncle is getting remarried. I am so happy for him and wish him every happiness.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for stopping by. And good luck planning your reunion. It’s so hard to get eveyone together but once you get a date set, etc. things just seem to fall into place. Good for you for attempting this!!

  2. I’m always amazed at your tenacity, Nise. I know it’s tough to understand why some people wouldn’t want to be in contact, but speaking from recent events on my side of the family, I can kind of understand.

    My Aunt hates us. She’s kept it under wraps for 40+ years, but she is getting older and letting her guard down. She’s sweet to your face, but don’t turn around.

    So, my parents and I have decided that we really have no desire to see her again. We have happy lives – why invite the drama? My uncle is still a welcome member of the family – crazy though he is – but we don’t care to interact with his wife. I’m not interested in being kind and welcoming to someone who will hurt me.

    Perhaps your cousin is in self-protection mode.

  3. i too have a large family.(but not that large!) ….and i like to be a detective….so – have you ever asked your aunt why she never saw her children again?….ok, more curiosity and audacity – what do you have to lose if you tell the cousin about her mother? she doesn’t want to know you anyway and maybe she was never told the truth? or maybe she was and you weren’t – but you will have been honest and everyone deserves a chance to make peace (or closure) with a parent – good or dysfunctional – before they pass on.
    ok. i’ll mind my own business.

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