It’s not easy watching Miss Cathy carry her anger and hurt about her family around like a wounded bird, gently tending to what’s broken yet ever ready to wage war lest it be taken advantage in its weakened state while trying to make peace with the damage done.
And just as sure as the sun follows the moon you could count on a diatribe whenever the tender subject of her families absence from her life comes up.
“I’ve been running up and down the highway for years taking care of them, taking time off from work, leaving my kids when they needed me”, she’d say, working herself up then her voice would calm down and her anger would turn wistful, “if I knew that this is the way that they would treat me….”
When her anger was spent she’d confess that she wouldn’t have done anything differently; she would still have gone to care for her mother when she was alive, even though there were siblings living right there in the same town (and on the same street).
She’d do it all again for any one of her three sisters or two brothers if they needed her.
Such is the nature of families, a conundrum wrapped in an enigma.
I can’t imagine how she feels.
She just always assumed her family would be there for her in kind.
Looking in on her life as I have the past three years, I can see that they care (evidenced by their phone calls) but no one seems to care enough to make time to visit.
That’s why I always refer to her family as ‘relatives of unknown origin’.
To me they’re not worth identifying or remembering as individuals when (for years now) the lot of them have displayed the same disappointing ‘group think’ and continue to offer up excuses and indifference instead of showing up.
In my book, it’s very simple “if you care-you’re there”…period.
Family is made up of more than blood and the happenstance of kin; family isn’t just order of birth and it isn’t a birthright.
‘Family’ are the people that love, support, and nurture each other. Family are the people that you can turn to, lean on and you always know that you can let down your defenses because they are there to defend you.
So, with the arrival the next day of mom’s sister in law, nephew and his wife it was gratifying to know that someone(s) in her family was finally making an effort.
Regardless of how long it’d taken or for whatever reasons they stayed away so long, the simple act of showing up is a powerful first step toward making themselves worthy of relatives being known.