Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Family Ties

I come from 2 separate large families that really have very little in common. I don’t know how to put their differences into words without offending anyone so let’s just leave it at “they are different”. If you start with my grandparents and count your way down to grandkids, there are about 26 people on my mom’s side and close to 35 on my dad’s.
That’s a bunch of people!!! What it means to me is that I’ve got a free room to stay anytime I’m in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and on the off chance my brother decides to settle down there, Iowa. It also means that we are never truly in the same place at the same time anymore.

Back when the number of family members on each side was in the teens, you could always count on seeing every cousin, aunt, uncle, and future/temporary boyfriend at grannies during that holidays. After a big meal my mom’s side always settles down to a game of Taboo or OutBurst. The kids would be running the loop that started at the entrance to the living room, straight to the back of the house, up the long dark hall, into the dinning room, and back to the living room entrance. I ran this same path when I was kid as I suppose my mom and her sisters did when they were growing up. After 30 odd years if you look close enough the floor is probably a little lower in places. Kind of like tire tracks through fresh snow. Sooner or later though the turkey would start to knock people out and eventually the driveway would be free of the traffic jam that sat there hours earlier.

My dad’s side is a little different. My grandfather is a preacher and like most preachers, he moves around every few years. As my grandparents moved from tiny town to tinier town, at some point they began to leave their children behind. They lost one in Montgomery, Al., two in Jacksonville, Fl., etc...until now nobody lives within four hours of them. This means that when everyone gets together it’s never really the whole family, but merely bits and pieces of families. My dad may bring my half-brother but not my half-sister. An aunt may show up, leaving the husband and kids behind. No matter who arrives, two things are always for certain; 1.There will be people sleeping in the floor cause nobody wants to pay for a hotel room and 2.Everyone disagrees with some part of everything going on. He wants to eat this at this time. She’s ok with the time, but not what we are eating. We all wanna go someplace, but not the same place, and if he doesn’t want to go then I’m hanging out here with him even though I really don’t like the weather channel. It’s a big, loud, chaotic mess of babies, teenagers, and parents acting like teenagers cause they are back home with granny and grandpa.

When we all get together, there is something about those 2 separate homes that makes us all act like kids again. It’s the same on both sides. You are not only walking through the door to you’re grannies house, you’re being transported back in time to when you were 5 and asking for ice cream for dinner.

The main thing both sides of my family have in common though, is that 2 people that love each other deeply and will never part from one another founded them. In an age where some marriages barely last a month, theirs is the stuff of legend. Through them generations upon generations of people were born and brought together.

This is a marvelous and special thing, to be apart of two such large families…but nowadays I wonder about what will happen when the core no longer exists. Nobody likes to think of death, but I can see it occurring already. We just can’t all seem to meet at the same place, the same time anymore. Cousins and nephews are being lost due to the lack of time it takes to try and contact every member of the family. Hellos are sent, I love you’s exchanged, births are announced, and weddings are all communicated through the core…Granny and Grandpa. If I need to know how my cousin and his new baby are, I don’t call him. I call granny. It’s just easier to get the info on everyone at one time rather than make myself promises to call each person individually once a month and then feel guilty when I let it slip my mind. Besides what is there to talk to about when you don’t see one another any longer?

One of the things I worry about most in life, and trust me I worry about a lot of things, is that one day ten years from now I’m not going to know where those cousins, aunts, uncles, and future/temporary boyfriends are. There will be nobody to spread the word, just a bunch of puzzle pieces scattered across the countryside never quite reflecting the portrait that once existed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, so you made me tear up. And I've made a decision...I'll be the core when the time comes. GA can be the central location and we have plenty of room for everybody. There, now dont worry any more about it cause I have had the same worries. I do hate that we cant all be together more than what we are. I got a kick out of all the inside jokes. You dont really understand unless you are a member of the Beck family, huh?