We have a large extended family on my Dad’s side. Two years ago we had a family reunion, and if everyone would have attended, there would have been about 130 people spanning 4 generations.
Everyone is very sweet and well-meaninged …. to your face. But when it comes down to execution? Crickets.
My eldest cousin spent a good amount of time visiting with my Dad and Mom at the reunion, and she promised she would come visit them, much to my Dad’s delight. She is, after all, one of his favorites.
She and her husband are retired, and have traveled a good bit over the last year touring Italy along with multiple weekend trips to NYC, Vegas and Chicago, and she volunteers about 20 hours per week at the Hunger Task Force.
Point is, she has the time.
In March of 2018 she invited all us girl cousins to gather for lunch at a local restaurant. It was nice to see everyone again about 9 months after the reunion. This cousin asked about my parents, begged me to give them both a hug, and promised, once again, to come visit. I encouraged her, sharing my parents would love that!
This past Labor Day weekend, she and her husband attended an Italian festival in Chicago, one that has been going on for years – – that my father went to with his parents even when he was a boy, and that he dutifully brought us to as my brothers and I were growing up. My cousin was kind enough to post a video of the procession of the saint, the highlight of the festival. Last night I saw it and sent a message thanking her for sharing it and sparking fond memories of my own.
She replied her husband took the video specifically thinking my Dad and my Uncle in CA would appreciate and enjoy it. My Dad did enjoy it, even though he can’t see it. I played it for him anyway so he could hear the music and the prayer chantings. He loved it and a huge smile crossed his face, followed by a myriad of stories. Mission accomplished Cousin!
I thanked them for that, and let her know Dad did enjoy it even though he can no longer see. She was shocked, said she didn’t know about his loss of sight and stated she’ll pray for him.
My evil twin emerged in my head: well of course you don’t know, how could you know?! You haven’t called or visited in two years even though you promised multiple times! But go on, enjoy your extended trips abroad and keep giving of your time to the local charity organization that is about a 15-minute drive from our house. No need to concern yourself with your family, of whom only 4 of our 10 elders are still with us….
At least she didn’t make another false promise.
But, I kindly replied “thank you”.
A nerve was struck. What is it, especially with family? While prayers are always welcomed and appreciated, a text message to me with offers of hugs is definitely not the same as a 30-minute visit or a 10-minute phone call directly to my Dad! Even my brothers do this to us!
I just don’t get it.
My Uncle calls my Dad every couple weeks. My Dad calls my Uncle in between. I call my Uncle in between those in betweens. My Dad’s youngest sister, my Aunt, calls every week and stops by at least once a month for an hour or two.
Maybe it’s a generational thing…. It must be. I’ve often told my Dad, after he’s recanted stories of customs and traditions that he was part of as a child, that I missed out and am part of the wrong generation. I would have loved to do many of those things he participated in!
I hope I’m not alone in this experience. Well, actually, for your sakes, I hope that I am alone with this situation! 😉
1 thought on “Family….”
Sadly, your situation is much like my own. While our kids in Mexico and Spain make video calls to us several times each week, much to my wife’s delight, we have family 10 minutes away who keep saying they’d “love to see us,” but they may call once a month.
Yes, I get resentful after hearing about all they are doing to enjoy themselves without asking us to participate, but then I get real. In truth, a blind guy and his demented wife are really awkward company. Nobody wants to end up like us and so they stay away.
I’m doing my best to not be resentful and, instead, to focus on the people in our life who truly care and make time for us.