Monday, June 04, 2007

The Picnic

We had a family reunion of sorts this weekend. Ducky’s family is usually pretty close. But now in some respects they are closer, sort of. Ducky’s younger brother was diagnosed with 4 stage, small cell lung cancer in April, it has made things much more immediate. Saturday we trekked to Portland and met in the Mount Scott Park for a “wonderful” picnic. Younger brother is looking good; despite the chemo not being nice to him (of course have you ever heard of chemo being nice to anyone?) He’s not lost his hair, he’s only lost two pounds, and his energy level isn’t too bad (but the reality is it’s stage four lung cancer that has spread to his brain.) It was a long day and you could tell after four hours in the park, with too much family, the activity was sucking the energy out of him.

Younger brother had sown his wild oats in his younger day and the picnic had a two fold purpose. The first being family, the second being family; it was an opportunity to introduce siblings and families to his daughter, Em, and her three delightful children. We taken Ben, two of our girls were able to join us, Robby (Ducky’s older/younger sister) took Boo, and the day was filled with laughter, pictures, and food (well if you can call store bought, mass produced potato and macaroni salad food, let a lone good.)

Two things grabbed my attention during the course of the day. First off Younger Brother’s two sons, couldn’t make take the time to come; despite the fact the two sons had, themselves, chosen the day for the picnic, they had a month to save and prepare for the picnic. Nothing was being asked of them, but to show up. Both had financial excuses. Bullshit. If my dad was dying I’d walk to Portland to see him if that was my only option. Shit their sister came the farthest, all the way from Spokane, for the day.

The other thing that grabbed me was for all their closeness as a family (they don’t fart without letting each other know – and then it is in front of everyone) they are divided. A day spent in the park as a family group was still broken into individual family clusters. Robby didn’t talk to me (not a problem – that’s a whole story in of itself) but she didn’t talk to Younger Brother’s wife – Tech, Em, or Ducky. Sisters, spouses, and children sat closed against the rest, ate by themselves, talked among themselves. I had to wonder why they came?

My parents raised me to be very independent, a fact that has been questioned by others, I relish that independence and rue it at the same time. My siblings are flung to the four corners – Dale is in Sioux Falls racing sprints, Darryl goes where the Air Force sends him (next up Augusta), and Dee is only 70 miles away in Thurston. My family has, maybe, one get together a year, usually when my baby brother is in town.

I hate talking on the phone and I rarely call my sister. Strangely enough, when I am thinking about calling she will call me – yes this makes me feel worse. My oldest brother understands. My baby brother – a total phone person – accepts this, but has a harder time with it. Despite that distance and lack of phone calls, they are forever in my thoughts, always in my heart. I will take vacations to spend time with Darryl and his wonderful wife Tee, and baby. When we get together we aren’t splintered into individual family groups, we ebb and flow. Dee and Tee together they are dynamite and highly entertaining, beware playing games they both cheat – boldly and badly.

I love my family, our independence, and love for each other. I love Ducky’s family, enjoy (most of the time) being with them, while feeling left out most of the time – they are a supportive and loving group, but fractious.

Families are different as snowflakes. In the words of John Edward – please communicate, validate, and appreciate those you love. For what we have today may not be here tomorrow.



Karin Tabke said...

Calista, sounds like a bittersweet day. Sigh, such are families. I tend to ebb and flow at these types of gatherings as well. But there will always be those members who just don't get it, they like being apart. Fine. Their loss. My prayers are with little brother. And shame on his sons.

Sideon said...

Beautiful post, Cele.

Each family's dynamics are so different - "as snowflakes," as you so eloquently stated. It can be tough to isolate the motivations and commonalities and "middle ground." It's tough enough being IN a family - imagine the challenge of learning a new family like your partner's/significant other's.

I hope you and all your family are well.

Cele said...

Karin thank you for the prayers, you are so kind. Hey girl did you see my bear pictures below?

Sorry I am hot on that bear.

Sid who can understand the motives of family dynamics? Gawd who wants to, I'd need a pshyc ward if I could figure out my families. Your comment about learning a new family is so right on. I try very hard to make it all inclusive, to pull in those on the fringe or those who are new. There is nothing worse than being a wallflower, I know I have been one for decades - but I am trying to bloom.