It’s not always easy being a part of a family. There are demands on your time when someone becomes unexpectedly ill. Or the phone rings when you’re in the middle of cooking dinner or just about to rush out the door running late. Ageing parents become needy instead of nurturing as the roles inexorably reverse. Siblings get cranky when your view point differs or you offer it with careless haste. Nieces and nephews become distant as time erases their memories of you. I’m part of a two person immediate family with a husband and no children (although I hope Zeus doesn’t read this…), but I have a mother, a sister and a brother plus an assortment of nieces, nephews and in-laws. Living in Cairns means we rarely see them. In my sister’s case even more rarely as she and her family live in France and the UK. My husband’s family are all in England so Skype is our friend and a joy.
Today is my sister’s birthday and she’s made the trek all the way to Australia to check up on the family. They arrived yesterday so no doubt the jet-lag is still lurking waiting to bowl them off their feet when they least expect it! I’m heading to Brisbane now to catch up with them, (as well as squeeze in some work but don’t tell the boss he’s paying for my trip!) The old queenslander will be bursting at the seams tonight. My mother at 89 still lives in the family home, defiantly independent without Dad. My sister and her two children are staying with her until my brother-in-law arrives from London. My brother and his three children will be there tonight along with his partner and her two girls. There will be excess hormones racing around that house with five teenage girls. (That’s a little bit scary and brings to mind episodes from Glee Club…)
No doubt we’ll debate the merits of sushi (I already know what’s on the menu- yum) and the pros and cons of Australian politics. We’ll solve the world financial crisis, because we can. I’ll try to understand my bilingual niece and nephew without looking completely uncouth. We will argue, because that’s an integral part of what my family has always been about. Thankfully the grudges don’t last long. It will be noisy because we all like to talk and boisterous just because we are.
Dad will be a part of the evening even though he’s been gone five years. Having been born in the house 98 years ago I doubt he’ll have gone anywhere without Mum. The rest of the family ghosts will stop by – I normally feel them there when I visit.
Tonight will be a wonderful reminder that the tapestry of our lives is so intricately interwoven with those of our families. Familiar faces we can pick out in a crowd, voices we recognise without thought, people we know so intrinsically we may never really understand them and yet we can finish their sentences.
I am what I am because of them and tonight will be fun!!