My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Loss In The Family

Being somewhat less mobile than I once was... and being a devoted amateur genealogist... I feel like sometimes I spend more time with dead relatives than with the living ones. It's not that I don't LIKE the living ones. I just don't get out much. I don't like to talk on the phone. Pain takes me out of the social game in a lot of ways.

Modern media has connected me with family members that I might not have known well or seen often in my younger years and it's been a lot of fun building new bonds within the family. There are still those relatives with whom you just don't have much of a relationship due to geography or... whatever. It's not that you don't want to know these people, at least in my case, it's just that sometimes it doesn't work out that way. My dad is one of three children and my mom is one of seven. The number of aunts, uncles and cousins in my family tree is mind blowing. Maybe the abundance of family makes it feel a bit impossible to know everyone as well as I might like. And in a way, I think that makes me cherish the close bonds even more.

Two of my mom's brothers came up to visit in the past year... and my dad's brother did too. My mom's sister and her family came up for Thanksgiving. Those times are important because we're all getting older (even me!) and I'm not physically able to just jump in the car and take a road trip over the river and through the woods as much as I might like. So these mini-reunions mean the world to me.

Yesterday my mom's brother passed away. The family has asked for privacy so I won't name him here. He was number 3 of the seven children in my mom's family. My mom is number 6. Grandma had four boys in a row and then three girls in a row between the years of 1935 and 1950. This brother has five children, four boys and a girl - just like my family. Other than some family gatherings early in my childhood, I don't have many memories of this particular uncle. At our last family reunion in 2011 he came and his oldest son, came. Neither of them are on social media much. His wife has been rather reclusive for some time and I don't think I've seen her in probably twenty years. It doesn't mean that his life and death don't matter - they do. He's joined my favorite group of relatives, after all... the dead ones! (Please don't take that as anything other than a genealogy joke.) My parents reminded me that it was this uncle's dog that bit me when I was a little girl - the first step in my transition to Cat Lady. I'm sure that's not why we lost touch but I have seen that families grow distant for many random and different reasons.

My uncle's death does make me think about the relatives that seem to remain out of touch. Obviously, the biggest in our life is my brother, who has the same name as this uncle, and how he has completely removed himself from our family over the past few years. I always pray that there will come a day when one of his children get curious and start digging around the roots of their family tree and find me and my blog or my tree on We can never fill in the blanks of the things that we have missed but I want them to know that they are loved and cherished and missed. Our hearts are never so full that we forget the parts left empty by those broken branches of our family tree.

I'm also so very grateful for the family members that I might not have known as well growing up but who are a precious addition to my life now. I feel honored to have walked, even a short part of life's journey with them. I went to work for my dad's brother and have a much better appreciation for who he is... and I know his wife better than I would have just from weddings and funerals and reunions. I have a few cousins with whom I have much in common - parallel medical problems, parallel life challenges. And some who are fascinating in how they are different from me. I am always thrilled to see pictures of the babies and grandbabies of my cousins. I'm happy to see what my uncles and aunts are doing. I respect all of them and appreciate whatever role they play in my life, whether large or small. I love my family.

There won't be a memorial service or funeral but I think over the next few days we'll all reflect about family. I'll pray for God's comfort for my cousins. I'll thank God for the family members who are actively in my life. I'll also thank Him for the ones who have gone a different way and pray that He lights their path.

Sorry for rambling. Grief is an odd thing and it takes many different forms. Please keep our family in your prayers. Love and hugs, y'all!