Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We are Family

Today I'm participating in a mass blogging!

WOW! Women On Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We're celebrating the release of Therese Walsh's debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy. (Random House, October 13, 2009) It’s the story about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost when they were teenagers.

Visit The Muffin (http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html) to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit Therese's website (http://www.theresewalsh.com/) to find out more about the author.

Families can be a complicated thing sometimes. No one ever really understands what makes one family close while another is totally dysfunctional.
I grew up in a large family. On my mother’s side alone I had eighteen aunts and uncles, twenty-six cousins and of course my own six siblings—and we were all very close. Growing up it was more like having eighteen moms and dads and thirty-two brothers and sisters. Okay, I'll admit at times my family was a bit dysfunctional, but I love being from such a large family. It was like having you're own little community. I even wanted to have a large family of my own, at least six kids. Unfortunately I had to stop at four….to which my daughter Becca is very grateful….not always, but sometimes.

I can almost understand her feelings since my older brother was the same way. He hated that there was so many kids and so little money. But…such is life. My mother had to struggle to make ends meet after the death of my father. It wasn’t easy being a single mom, especially back in the seventies. It didn’t help that we were minority and poor as dirt, but we managed. And when she suddenly passed away, her siblings rallied around and took us in, even though money was tight for them too. We were a very close family and still are. I’ve lost a few of my aunts and uncles over the years and I often wonder if they knew how much I appreciated what they did for us, the support and encouragement they continuously gave.

Because I know what it’s like to lose a parent at an early age, I try to teach my children to understand the value of family. I try to instill how important it is to stick together and take care of each other. Being kids, they balk at the thought, but I know they take it to heart. My oldest daughter, Manda, was born with Cerebral Palsy. It’s a mild form, but it still limits her from doing certain things. In January of this year she was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. When she was little we never treated her any different than we treated the other three kids, and they didn’t treat her any differently either and they still don’t. While Manda is very independent (don’t dare tell her she’s disabled), she is also aware that she may not be able to live independently. Her siblings understand this as well and often joke about who gets to “keep” her. But, their jokes aside, I know they’ll do right by her and each other.

But, telling my children about family isn't the same as showing them. Before moving away from home, I made a point to get together every birthday, holiday and summer vacation with my Aunt Minnie and my cousin Michelle. Minnie was like a second mother to me--although technically she's only 13 years older-- but she was always very maternal and my sister, Becky, (my bestest friend) and I lived with her and her family for a short while, so Michelle has always been like a little sister to us. We grew very close when I moved back to Texas (in '87) and she was still in high school. She used to call me every Thursday night (during Knot's Landing-haha) to help her write her essays for AP English. (Oops, now you're gonna get in trouble for cheating on your assignments!)
Anyway, Michelle was also one of my best friends. She used to babysit my kids when I needed her (she was even there for a couple of the births). I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in her wedding (and even helped her with the wedding plans), and I did my share of pacing the halls during the birth of her kids--she has four, like me...the copycat! Although our children aren't close in age, they're very close in relationship...even with the twelve hundred mile distance and two hour time zone that separates us. I miss seeing and talking to her and her mom on a regular basis. (yes, I admitted it, Michelle.)

My children are getting older and within the next five years will all have left home. You’d think this would make me sad, and I’m sure when the time actually arrives I’ll cry my tear ducts dry, but I know regardless of where life takes them, they will always know they have a family to go home to.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I too lost my mom at an early age. Unfortunately, I didn't have the support system or family. You bring up a great point, it's so important that family stick together. Thank you for sharing.

LuAnn said...

At one time, I wondered why parents had such a difficult experience letting their children go ... until it was my turn. When my daughter moved out of the house and started life on her own, I stood in her bedroom doorway and cried. I was so worried about how she was going to get along! But, she's done fine and is quite an accomplished young woman now with a little girl of her own.

Terri said...

Thank you both for stopping by.

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