We can't choose our ancestors
(Looking at this photo of my great grandparents I’m thinking the “serious look” some of us have was inherited, lol. Why did people not smile for photos back then?)
As I’ve grown older I’ve learned to be proud of where I came from. But I didn’t used to feel that way.
Growing up I accepted the fact that our family was just messed up. Maybe dysfunctional sounds less harsh but the reality is that the Waltons didn’t always say good night to John Boy, and they struggled with their own functionality at times
Me, my Grandpa, my Dad and my two brothers.
Grandpa and Grandma loved my dad but they forgot to show him how it was done. They raised him to be the man who kept a roof over our head, food in our belly, and to love us the best way he knew how.
Dad and I didn’t always agree on things (as the cook through high school, and in retaliation, I fed him far too much rice and macaroni instead of his favorite boiled potatoes, and looking back now it was probably to make sure I had MY say now and then…insert shrugging emoji here).
Over time we developed a stressful relationship, and not because of the potatoes. On a side note though, he told me once that he felt sorry for my future husband because he no doubt would get sick of rice and macaroni. That made me mad because now he was professing to be a fortune teller! Fast forward to a night at the supper table with my own family. My sweet husband said to me, “I appreciate you cooking for us but do you think we could have a little less rice and macaroni?” WTF?! I had NEVER told anyone what my dad had said to me years before and to this day I have never told him he was right, that time!
Hopefully you’re not reading this, but if you are…Dad, you were right.
It wasn’t until I was raising my own kids that I could understand where Dad was coming from with his lessons he tried to teach us.
He may not have known a better way to instil his beliefs in us but I came to understand that he just wanted us to be bigger, better and more successful than he was. He didn’t always know how to show it. (Imagine his dismay over a family dinner at a restaurant when my brothers and I told him we wanted to be an 18 wheeler driver (me), race car driver, and a bronc riding cowboy!)
Death has a way of changing everything
I recently lost my cousin (may she Rest In Peace), to a rare form of cancer, and while I watched her celebration of life online the other day, I cried.
At first I didn’t cry for her but for her family who lost their wife, mom, sister and grandma as they read their memories of her. And the more each of them shared it was hard to not to get a sense of who she truly was. Every memory of her was the same, no matter who told it.
And I don’t believe in coincidence.
When the service ended and my screen went blank I couldn’t move. I was grounded in my chair with thoughts of what could have been but more about how we all have a story to tell.
If each of us took the time to write our story, every chapter would be different. Even if we come from the same circle, where we share the same moments, our memories aren’t always the same.
My cousin was six years older than me and even though it doesn’t seem like much now, it was a big age difference back then. When I was 12 she was 18 and I remember admiring her so much. She was my favorite cousin and I loved to be around her.
As the years went on the distance between our families became greater and visits became fewer. When I got older I realized I missed her and so I wrote her a letter. I told her how much I looked up to her, how grateful I was that she was my cousin, and hoped we could find a way to stay in touch.
She never answered me back.
Don't judge others by someone else's story
A few years ago my cousin and I were reconnected, in a way, when I became “friends” with one of her daughters on Facebook. Over time and after reading between the lines, I started to believe that the relationship between them was a bit rocky.
Reaching out on the phone with her daughter, we spent a couple of hours sharing family history and our own stories of our dysfunctional family. By the time I hung up my heart broke for her and I chose in that moment to dislike the cousin who I used to adore.
Years ago, someone close to my heart came to dislike another member of the family just from stories they had been told. Even though I had never met the person, I was beginning to dislike them just as much. Until the first time we spoke and I instantly fell in love.
It was at that time that I promised myself to not pass judgement until I’m in a position to judge. We all have those we aren’t fond of but that doesn’t mean they aren’t nice people. They just aren’t “nice” for us.
Even though I believe that some of what my cousin’s daughter told me about the relationship with her mom may be true, after watching her celebration of life I feel differently on the perspective of it all.
The stories of her that were shared are not unlike my own memories so I know in my heart that she was truly who they say she was. What saddened me though was watching the slideshow they put together of memories with her and not once did I see a photo of her daughter, but only of her other kids.
Today I understand more that there are always two sides to every story and it’s up to us to use our own perspective. But what saddens me the most is that we lack the tools to mend our wounds and to learn to forgive the ones we love.
And then I cried for all of us.
I just told Dad I was scared and nervous and he’s asking me if I wanted him to stand up there with me, lol…God love him!
Be proud of where you come from
Dad and I live far apart but we still take the time to talk on the phone and keep in touch. We still struggle now and then with our individual super powers, but we work hard to make sure in the end that no one is missing from OUR slide show of memories.
From generations down we’ve all done the best we know how and I’m slowly learning to be proud of where I’ve come from. Messed up or not, the stories of our family are what have made me who I am today, and without MY story I may never have learned to be me.
Like it or not, we all came from somewhere. It’s the stories we tell that can change a perspective.
I would love to hear where YOU came from?