Monday, October 24, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Family Weekend

2 weekends ago, P and I flew down to Houston for my grandfathers 90th birthday. It was a great party, and it was so much fun, but I learned some pretty significant lessons from that weekend.

Scar run deep and old wounds caused by our own blood tend to hurt more and take longer to heal. I saw that in my mother. Her parents divorced when she was a baby, and she and her dad did not get along for many years. They began to repair their relationship about 15 years ago. My mom has worked really hard to repair their broken ties, and now they are in a place of genuine love and respect for each other. However, no matter how far they have come, those old scars still burn. P and I were talking to my mom during the part about her and my grandfather as children, and her eyes welled up with tears talking about those old hurts. There is something about sharing blood that makes those old wounds hurt just a bit more than others. It was a great reminder that words have power, they can tear down or build up, and once they are out, you cannot take them back.

Family tiffs can go on for years. My grandmother died when I was about 13. She was the anchor to my mothers side of the family. She and I were always very close. She spent the last year and a half of her life fighting lung cancer. My family and I came to see her at least 2x a week (she lived about 45 min. away) while she was sick, and the last month of her life, we were at her house every day. I was there in the room when she died. She stopped speaking a few weeks before she passed because of the soars that had grown in her mouth and throat. The morning she died, I was by her bed, and she looked at me and told me I was the sunshine of her life. After that, she fell asleep and never woke up. God, I loved that woman. I loved her for who she was and not what she could give me, because she couldn't give much. After my step-grandfather died, she went to work at Walmart to make ends meet. The most valuable things she owned were 2 small necklaces with 2 tiny diamonds in there. She left those to me in her will. I never knew she had them. The day of her funeral, my uncles wife flipped out when she found out I received those necklaces, and yelled at me in front of everyone. I told her she could have them if she wanted them, and I meant it. Ever since that day, she has removed herself from our family. We have seen her maybe 10 times in the last 15 years. I would gladly give those back to have a better relationship with her. I learned that stuff, no matter how beautiful or precious can never replace relationships
My other aunt, my mom's step sister (my mom is 1 of 7, 5 are still living) moved far way and have never spoke to our family since the funeral. My mom thinks she had always felt like an outsider. I miss her, and I have written to her a few times over the years, but never heard back. I learned that you cannot take family for granted, we all need to feel loved and wanted.
My mom and the others are still really close. They email and talk to each other all the time, which is awesome. Family is such a funny thing. I come from a huge, crazy tribe. The final lesson I learned from my mother in law. After a family reunion on that side of the family, she looked at me and said, "Family is a good hard thing."

That is absolutely true.

1 comment:

Denise said...

oh so true. my extended family is quite small. my mom and dad both just had one sibling. all my grandparents died VERY young. my mom and dad live all of 3 minutes away. sometimes too close. i am all ready thinking about the grandparent i want to be. i feel like i missed out with mine dying so young. sounds like your relationship with your mom is a good one.