The word “family” means different things to different people. When I grew up in the 1950s and 60s, I never really had much of a sense of family being something particularly important. I would find out later that was primarily due to the fact that my mother was an extreme narcissist. To her, there was simply no room for anyone but her. She demanded all the attention wherever she was. I guess Dad didn’t give her enough, so she left him, me, and a younger brother to seek greener pastures when I was nine years old. But that is a completely different story for another time…
In my earliest days, we occasionally visited Dad’s siblings. He had two sisters and a brother. One of her sisters gave birth two days after I was born. The baby’s name was Barbara Ann. I felt a kinship with her, but never saw her again after grade school. I had an older brother and a younger brother. We were all three years apart. My older brother went with Mom when she left, as he was no legal relationship to Dad. I saw him briefly four years after that, but it would be forty years before I saw him again. I see my younger brother every decade or so, but that is about it.
Because of my recently discovered Aspie traits, I have never been much of a joiner. I always felt that I was just not like other people. Like one of my favorite songs from Simon and Garfunkel I always felt that “I an a rock, I am an island…” My life shaped a very different view of family than my wife’s.
I remember the first time I want to the woods of northern Wisconsin to meet her “family”. I was totally shocked! This little family gathering to introduce me to the family included about 50 people! Of course, I remember the Walton clan from the 1970s, but I kinda figured it was all make believe. That was the first of many events I would participate in with my wife’s Wisconsin clan. 😳 I never really felt part of the clan as it was just too foreign to my nature, but even so I came to almost enjoy these gatherings.
What brings this to mind right now is the fact that I am, with the help of my brother-in-law, setting up a “celebration of life” dinner for my recently departed wife’s memory. And, of course, there will be many people there. 😎
Closing this post out, my family tree never grew much taller than a stump. Once again, I have come to appreciate that I am on the margins when it comes to these sorts of things.