THE FAMILY AS WE MEET

Delayed Contact – How would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?


How would I get along with them today? If I had just met them?

96-Matthew-HouseOnPaloAlto-1953

Probably not well. Mom might be an interesting person to talk to about her experiences in the thirties and forties. Her cynical take on politics and the way the world was going. Her disdain for government and the people who run it. Her dislike of “the old boys network” and the “old boys” in it were eternally amusing. She had a sardonic way of expressing herself that I think I have inherited. I miss her. She always had a unique “take” on whatever was going on.

I loved my brother though we had little in common but DNA. Our interests were so different. Our ways of dealing with the world almost diametrically out of phase. We shared a common understanding of how hard it had been to grow up in our world and come out unbroken.

96-MatthewAndMarilynApr1948

It’s a bit of a moot point whether or not we were unbroken, but we hid the damage well and managed to have productive lives. We were deeply supportive of each another. Yet I wonder. If we hadn’t been born to the same parents, would we have ever sought each other out? If Matt had lived longer — and so wish he had — we might have discovered more common ground as we matured. I wish we’d had the chance.

My sister was the odd child. Socially awkward and very much her mama’s darling, I think she watched me — especially me –with much envy and resentment, never understanding what it had cost me to break free of the family so young (I was barely 16) and go it on my own. I know she found me a hard act to follow … but she found life a hard act. By her mid 30s, she had retreated not only from the family, but from the world. She was a modern-age hermit and as far as I know, still is. Drug-addicted and lost, somewhere. She does not leave a forwarding address.

I’m always a bit envious of close-knit families, though I wonder what is hidden in there, what lies beneath the cheery surface. Maybe everything is just as you see it. Maybe not. It’s a bit late for me to find out because so much of my family has passed.

Maybe next time around the wheel.



Categories: Family, Friendship, Personal, Relationships

Tags: , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. our family is not close. i often lament that.
    but at least we haven’t murdered each other.

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  2. I am certain there would be a lot of past family and friends I would not get along with if I first met them today. So much has changed

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    • And some of my old friends don’t seem to realize that I’ve changed. They want me to be the person I was 20 years ago … and I can’t be that. I’m not sure I was that person even 20 years ago.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I would like to think I am wiser, not just older. Some I know definitely have not changed and are no wiser. Some post internet crap.

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        • Some people seem unable to change or accept change in others. My generation is aging and some of us not so gracefully. I’ve been physically very ill … but others are sliding away mentally. Scary. The only thing scarier is how the herd has thinned. How many people have already passed, most of them younger than we are. But that’s the way it goes as generations change. I remember when I was the youngest member of our crowd. Hah.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Well, a hearty AMEN sister to that comment!

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        • PS… the first comment, at 9:43 pm yesterday. 😉

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          • I do occasionally miss a comment. Not many, not often, but it happens 🙂 Amen to you, too. So many of us felt gypped as kids because our lives were NOTHING like the families on TV. We were all sure everyone else was having a really great life. If nothing else, getting older has disabused me of that. Most kids were at least as miserable as me, though sometimes for less discernible reasons.

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  3. Such a thought provoking and sad post Marilyn. I am sorry you lost your brother. I agree that we who are without “close knit” family ties tend to idealize family relationships, but I have come to realize as you said, so many are in truth dysfunctional. My husband has 3 children from his first marriage that don’t speak to him. We always think they are one big happy family until the one daughter who does talk to us will mention that they all never see each other or are fighting. My husband and I always say we’ve got each other- that is what it always comes down to.

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    • Garry and I say the same. He is still reasonably in touch with his two brothers, but the rest of the family are basically occasional phone calls and Facebook friends. My son and I are obviously still pretty close, but my granddaughter is drifting off … that’s what 18 is like and I was the same. I think I’ve mostly gotten over it, mellowed out, as it were. Anyway, I can’t get it back because I never really had it in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I met 2 of my 3 known brothers when I was 45. I had been adopted as an infant, my brothers were too. We didn’t know each other growing up and we didn’t know about each other growing up. They each were raised as only children, my adoptive parents had one child when I was 4. So, you would think being raised in different regions and different times – the oldest is 7 years older than me, the other 2 years older- you would guess we have nothing in common except for dna. It’s been almost 5 years and I noticed that we have traveled through the same growth plates siblings raised together do, we just had to do it in catch up mode. Despite our differences (one is Southern raised, conservative) , the other is a lone wolf, we are remarkably the same. I think at this point, it boils down to whether I want them in my life or not. The rest is commentary. PS. I do. They are all I have.

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    • DNA triumphs. Ultimately. My brother was athletic, hands-on, mechanical, gregarious, not intellectual (but curious and a reader of books … the one thing all of us shared). Fascinated by cars, engines, and handy enough to fix … even build them. Tone deaf. No interest in creating art.

      Me? Non athletic and distinctly un-handy. Interested in cars if I could be a passenger, but never interested in the mechanics. But totally into high tech, and anything computer-related. Anything conceptual. Artistic and musical.

      My brother’s oldest daughter not only LOOKS like me, but has the same gifts, interests, talents.

      My son not only looks like my brother, but sometimes reminds me of him so much it takes my breath away. His daughter, my granddaughter should have been my mother’s daughter. She is so much like my mother, it is sometimes shocking. So much more like my mother than I ever could be, even when I tried. And she never met my mother who died years before she was born.

      DNA doesn’t always do its thing in a single generation, but it always has its way. Eventually.

      Liked by 3 people

      • An excellent and thought provoking post, Mrs. A. Assuming I’m the “grownup” I think I am now, I would be more appreciative of Mom and Dad. But there would still be head-butting with Mom and Dad would be like LJ Gibbs in conversation. Conversation would be easier with my middle brother and challenging with my youngest sibling. This would make for an interesting “what if” story. I love it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Our family was a so-called “close knit” family, almost stifling, being careful how or where to tread. Love the photos, those b/w shots are so nostalgic and show it as it was.

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    • My brother and I were as close as two siblings can be who don’t have a lot in common. We had affection and concern … we stood up for each other and tried to help each other when we could. But we had very different tastes in just about everything. In many ways, we were opposites. I was more like my mother than was entirely comfortable — not just her admirable traits, but some of her more annoying ones (she was a terrible nag and so am I). I’m sure she and I could have had a nice, chatty friendship … but I’m not sure about more than that. Pictures freeze moments in time. Sometimes, I can remember the moments that preceding and followed those pictures and it wan’t as pretty as the pictures 🙂

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  6. Good question. I love my brothers, but I really don’t see them very often unless there’s a funeral or wedding to go to. So, I guess my answer would be that if I only just met them for the first time today, it’s not likely I would continue the relationship. My younger brother and I would probably get along Ok for a short visit, but I really don’t have a lot in common with my older brothers. I guess some families are strange that way.

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    • I think this is more common than is typically portrayed on TV and movies. We idealize family relationships, but many — maybe most — families are to one degree or another, dysfunctional. Individual relationships may be close, but in my experience, we have a lot better and closer relationships with friends than family. We honor our families … but we don’t necessarily like them.

      Liked by 1 person

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