Family Ties

Shhhh. My family are sleeping. Andrew, my husband of 20 years, and our three progeny. All asleep in their beds. My family.

I caught up with more of my family last night. My siblings. My older sister, my older brother, and my younger brother. We do this occasionally, just us. No partners. It was pleasant. We have long abandoned childhood hierarchy and now meet as equals. Well mostly equals! We laughed and talked, caught up on each other’s news. We had fun. My brothers both surprised me with gifts for my birthday. I obviously have a drinking problem being given two large coffee cups (that’s morning drinks) and a bottle of gin (evenings sorted!)

We were acknowledging our mother’s birthday this coming Saturday. She died shortly after turning 70, almost 11 years ago.

Across this city are more members of my family. Dad lives with his girlfriend, the younger woman. I jest. Dad will be 88 in August. Noeline is a month younger. We are happy he has found someone to live with since Mum.

My mother in law has been a widow for almost 15 years. She had heart surgery last week following a heart attack a month ago. For the past five days she has been “imprisoned” in a rest home convalescing. Today her family are busting her out. She is going home. She can do this because if her family’s willingness to support her.

My brother-in-law will drive her to her appointments. My daughter will move in from today for at least two weeks, to sleep over and be there as company and in case of emergency. Other members of the family will help out as well.

One of my sisters-in-law has told my mother-in-law she cannot rely on her family for ever. Pam knows this. But apart from weakness from being unwell preceding her heart op, she is fine. She can tend to her own personal hygiene needs. Arrangements have been made to deliver a daily hot meal and for someone to vacuum, clean the bathroom, and change the bed.

The shortfall will be picked up by her family. Because they want to help her. Because she was miserable in her rest home box. Because even though it would have been better if she had moved out of the four bedroom rambling family home 10 years ago, she didn’t. It is still her home. And she wants to live there as long as she can.

It will make more work for us. It won’t be forever.

Family. Everyone has a family. You cannot be born without a mother or a father contributing those first cells. My family is very traditional. Mum. Dad. Kids. Other families are made up of different combinations. Most are connected by genetic make-up. But not all.

I may not always like my family, but I am glad to have one. To be the middle child in the middle generation. To know I have history behind me and the future ahead.

So let’s drink to family. Cheers!

(It is early morning as I write this, so I raise my coffee cup!)

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Love is …..

What is love?

Apparently that is one of the most searched questions on Google. I know I have asked it myself.

Love is an emotion I am not sure I feel or receive.

Odd, isn’t it. I am married to my best friend. I have three kids. I know I probably do love them, but identifying that emotion is beyond me.

I know when I am cold. I know when I am hot. Happy. Sad. Hungry. In pain.

But I struggle to identify love.

Yes, I say I love things. Chocolate. Coffee. This book. That movie.

I don’t tell people I love them. Even when alone in the middle of the night, sitting with my dying mother, I found it hard to utter those three words. Eventually I did. Maybe she had been waiting for them all her life too, she died two hours later.

No-one told me they loved me when I was growing up. It was not the done thing.

I have lived most of my life struggling to even like myself, let alone love me. I took it as read that perhaps I was not very loveable. Even Andrew doesn’t really declare his emotions for me. The language of love in our family is a strong dialect of sarcasm. My kids are incredibly fluent. Though Robbie checks in with a touch on the shoulder as he passes. Jonny steals my glasses as he goes by. Juliet talks to me these days – high praise indeed. Andrew says, if he doesn’t add “you stupid bitch” to the end of his sentence, that is good enough.

But last night I felt something which I assume was love. For a person. Luckily it was my husband. He has been particularly supportive as I wrestle with a problem. I looked at his face. And this huge wave of warmth and emotion swept through my body.

Love.

Wow. I love my husband!!

Did I say it? Nope. Too chicken.

Maybe when he wakes up. Though the emotion I feel towards his snoring is definitely not love!

PS: Some of you might poo-poo the sentiments expressed above. Please remember this is what I feel, not what you perceive me to be or feel. My journey of healing through counselling has reinforced the importance of owning my feelings and emotions. No one has the right to judge me on those.

I know I have warped views on some things – love, sex, body image. I am working on them in my own time.