When it comes to families, how do we live with them? How do we live without them? It’s been said we can choose our friends, but not our families. George Burns said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” Maya Angelou said, “I sustain myself with the love of family.”
I agree with all of the above. Families are diverse, and members within families can be opposite yet similar to one another. If you are honest with yourself, what you complain about in a sibling or a parent probably holds a reflective smidgen of self-truth. Ouch.
The ups and downs of my family came alive during the past couple of weeks. My second oldest sister, who lives in Arizona, fell and fractured her right hip and ankle the day before her 80th birthday. Long story short, the other two sisters and I joined heads, hands, and resources to get her out of the hospital into a COVID-free rehab center. We then shared energy and strengths to alter her home for the use of a walker, if or when she again could live independently.
We cheered her up when she felt angry or discouraged and worked to exhaustion while laughing, groaning, griping, telling stories, and fighting the urge to strangle each other while we hugged and had a great time. It was a strange combination of torture, entertainment, and blessings.
While working on her house, we automatically fell to individual strengths. My oldest sister was the finance and paper person, the next made everything pretty, and I was the “get rid of it” person. We three sisters, along with a good friend and her husband, got the job done because of our differences.
Every family has conflicts and challenges, and hopefully, moments of endearment. We seldom use the word “abnormal” when speaking of families because each family has a unique range of familiar and acceptable. My family, like yours, is weird, but normal—to us. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings contribute to our worldview, how we celebrate, how we grieve, and how we help each other. Families have unique languages and connect through shared memories. We might love all or a few, or dislike all of them, but family members are a part of us—we are a part of them.
Think about your family and how one member’s weakness is another’s strength. Families are a team, and even if you would like to trade them in, try to acknowledge how each family member contributed to your development and enriched your life.
I’m closing with a laugh I shared with an Arizona Lyft driver. In conversation, I shared what my sisters and I were doing. He said, “Wow, you are all so nice to help each other like that. I can’t get my family to come to a backyard barbecue when I buy all the food.”
Families have ups and downs. Be thankful for them anyway.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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