This is an essay which has the potential to offend anyone reading it, including my family. In writing this, I had never intended to offend anyone. However, in reading it on completion, I realized it clearly will. But it is written, and can’t be unwritten. I want to apologize, in advance, to anyone who might find this condescending or offensive. It is my hope that you will see true intention of my thoughts.
For most of my life I have had no idea what the word family meant. Even now, I’m not sure I know, but as my middle life unfolds and I face the back 9, I think I’m starting to get it. It’s just a little too bad, that it’s just a little too late…
Divorce; It’s What’s For Dinner
I grew up in household with parents who separated multiple times while I was a child. They would eventually become divorced. I would grow up to marry a woman who also came from divorced parents. She and I would have a single child, but would become divorced, and I unequivocally take responsibility for that divorce. My brother, my only sibling, would also go on to marry, then divorce, and marry again to a woman who came from divorced parents – they are still married and have three adopted children.
No Place For Too Long
I was born in Massachusetts. When I was young, my father would move our family west to Colorado for a better life –over 2,000 miles from a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, and cousins who all lived proximate to our family, and who we saw and interacted with regularly. I also had aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandmother in the Deep South. Growing up in Colorado, none of these felt like family. I knew of them, but we traded no letters, rarely saw each other, and I thought of them only as often as I thought about performing tree surgery.
In adult life I would live in and out of proximity with my brother, mother, and father, multiple times. They would move, I would move. Sometimes closer, sometimes further away. Sometimes we would be in the same state, but a different city. Other times we would be in different states altogether. As a family, we were porous to say the least.
Once I was grown and on my own, I would remain fairly close with my brother, mother, and father, but I have always felt have we lacked the highest form of closeness; the desire to actually be together for more than three days at a time. Many reading this have said the following from time to time:
“I love being with my family, but only in small doses.”
Moving to another city, or seeing them move away, was always a good cure for this. When my mother lived in Alaska, she couldn’t drop in unexpected. When she lived down the street from me in Phoenix, she most certainly could – and often did. Not that this was a bad thing, but it seemed to stifle true adult independence.
Avarice And Acknowledgement
I grew up and lived most of my life thinking, truly believing that most families were just like mine; divorced, dysfunctional, and disjointed – the 3 Ds of the modern American family. My mantra was that Ozzy and Harriet wasn’t real, and divorce was the standard of modernity. My own divorced life reflected the lives of more than half of my contemporaries so I thought divorce must be normal, and so too with moving away — it’s just what we do now.
But as I have gotten older, I have started to take more notice of the other half – of those many families that don’t divorce, that don’t move away, and that they choose to spend time together – regularly, and actually like it. And I have become jealous of those families, because I know my chance to enjoy what they enjoy has come and gone.
Of late, I have begun to miss living near my brother and his family, to miss living near my mother, and though it kills me to say it, there are days when I miss living near my father too, all of whom live hundreds of miles from me now. Most of all, I miss living near my daughter who I only had the blessing of living with until she was 10 years old, and it was my choice to leave.
The Damage Done
I’m dug in now. I own a business. I live in a great place. I have a over decade of roots extending a little further with each year, into the networks of friends and social circles that have established themselves as my surrogate families, in a place which is not my real home. On any given day I may have lunch with a friend, cook for a neighbor, or workout with my workout friends, and I am blessed to do so – I adore and I appreciate my friends. I am blessed to know so many, to have so much, and to live in such beautiful surroundings. I know many people who would gladly accept my life and a thousand lashes, in lieu of their own life and a pot of gold, and I can honestly see why – being Roy is a good gig, for now.
At night though, in my quietest moments, as I lay my head on a pillow alone in my room with no flesh of my flesh, nor blood of my blood anywhere around, I am haunted the by the absence of family. If you read this and are contemplating a divorce, or a move away from family, do what’s best for you please. But take note of my regret, of my guilt, and of my appreciation for all that I had taken from me, and all that I walked away from. I don’t know what it’s like to have committed murder. But I well understand what it’s like to move a family away from family, and what it’s like to dissolve a family, and can only assume those feelings are similar. Be well. rc
Comments are closed this week. Oh, and there is this from Micky Braun. Enjoy…