Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ruminations..... Death and Family....

So, I went home for two funerals last week/this weekend.  North was also at the funeral of a close friend (my condolences again on his loss).  This is not the first time I've attended funerals or known of people (including two other family members) to pass within a three to four day period from March 9-March 13 (so I'm justifiably twitchy at this time of year).  Let's just say that there's something about the time around the Ides of March that just does not work for my family and, IMO, Caesar was a piker.  My aunt said something about more people dying either right after the leaves fall or just before their return and I think she's right, or at least it's been my personal experience to date.

My sister, who is one of the wisest women I know, said that we are at the age where most of our interactions with family will be for funerals.  And I suppose these people, genetically speaking, are family.  But I don't know them; unless there is a funeral, I have few -to-no interactions with them.  Part of that is my fault--there's only been one or two times I've contacted any of them or have been in physically close proximity to actually see them.  But then they've never reached out to me either.  I have finally moved my home close enough to interact with them, but at this point, after so many years, am I welcome or does it even matter to my existence to try to build something with them?  There were a few times where I allowed my personal hurts to override doing what's right, which made me a smaller person (albeit human) and I think that colors things too.

There are people who put great store in the idea of shared genetic heritage, but I am not one of them.  The simple fact of shared DNA does not make a person trustworthy or my family.  Himself is my family. My dad isn't blood, but he's my family.   My mom is my family (she's both).  I'm fortunate that my sister is both blood and family.  My brother (no DNA shared) was family until he decided that genetics was more important.  Broke my heart.  I've gathered family along the way--my best friend whom I met in college.  My cousin in Kansas who I have met in person once (both).  Folks in other states who I never see but know they are there.  Family. Folks who would lay it on the line for me and for whom I would do the same.

I might try (again) to develop something more than a nodding acquaintance with these people who share a genetic heritage.  My male cousins really didn't impress me with their lack of awareness or lack of willingness to help little old ladies and one struck me as being a total tool, actually.  One of my female cousins was very gracious and I think is a good person and might meet me in an attempt to get to know each other.  One cousin who I literally had not seen in decades, came to one funeral both to pay his respects as well as to try to find me and reconnect.  I felt a bit overwhelmed at that.

I'm not exactly sure the point of this is.  I guess these two funerals marked the ending of an era and the ones who once brought disparate relations together as families would--for holidays, birthdays, etc. are gone.  What we do now and where we take it is totally up to us.


North said...

I would call you wise. Your post has made me think a bit about why this funeral had such an impact on me. I've lost friends, I've lost family. I'm mid 40, my friend was only months younger. This is likely the notable 'first' of the friends that I have lost that I should have done much more with. Not take for granted the few great people that I have near me.

Especially now since friends, nearly all of them, are so very far away. Or worse, have changed too much to really be a part of my life. New friends I've been a bit anxious to connect with as much as I can.

"I'm not exactly sure the point of this is." My point: Reach out and touch now. Time runs cruelly from your life.

Thank you for your beautiful post.

Midwest Chick said...

North--it seems we're of an age and have similar experiences--friends far away or have changed (or I have) too much to keep as a part of my life.

I am definitely going to 'tag back' the cousin who took such steps to find me and I'll see what happens with the other one.

One point though--we can second guess or kick ourselves for things not done, but it's something we absolutely cannot change. Woulda/coulda/shoulda is a way to madness. But you're right in that we cannot take for granted those folks who are near us and who will also reach out to us (can't be one sided either).

Thanks for the kick in the butt to just reach out.

North said...

It is certainly reassuring to me that someone is going / has gone through the same experiences. Thank you for sharing your feelings.

It isn't as simple as a common phrase, but if it were it would be: Quality over quantity. Friends of character over acquaintances. Friends that will stand by you, that you will stand by. Friends that share your integrity, your honesty, your values.

Harder to find, more rewarding to have.

Borepatch said...

The problem with being human is that it's so damned hard. The more I live, the more I'm impressed by the concept of Grace. It makes living possible, after you've all gone and made it impossible with some of your family or friends.

Midwest Chick said...

North--quality over quantity indeed. The rewards are definitely more profound with each true friend a gift beyond words.

Borepatch--being human, in all senses of the word, is very hard if you're doing it right (especially if you make very human mistakes).

Guffaw in AZ said...

I'm sorry for your losses. Not only of the people, but what they represent. You're lucky to be able to reach out as you do. I come from a (____) -fill in the blank- family. My Father, Mother, Favorite Grandfather, all gone long ago. Estranged relationships with 'step' relations, partially my fault. I love what Borepatch said. May we all experience Grace.

Midwest Chick said...

I'm the poster child of estranged relationships when it comes to that side of the family. Maybe I can mend some bridges now.

Borepatch is wise, especially with his recent loss as well. Amazing Grace has been wandering through my head since I read what he wrote.

Anonymous said...

We live in such a world (Facebook-type) where we are encouraged to foster relationships based on where we have been. Nothing wrong with reconnecting, but possibly the chance of success is much greater if based on where and who we are NOW. Abhaya is the sanskrit word for fearlessness. Opening ourselves and reaching out to others takes an inordinate amount of courage. Bravo to you!