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Family Values

I’ve recently been enlightened to the fact that what I thought was the definition of family isn’t quite what I expected.

I thought family looked like this…

…usually a group of people associated due to birth, marriage, etc. In this day and age, it isn’t necessarily a Mom and Dad who have given birth or adopted children…it is also husbands and spouses, grandmothers and grandpas, cousins, aunts and uncles.

…family tends to care for one another, and even in the most challenging circumstances they can recognize the value of being together.

…takes a “together” approach when needed versus abandoning one another at times when togetherness is the most important thing.

…recognizes how stressful life can be and tries not to hold it against one another.

…instead of judging and sentencing, understands and acknowledges.

In my adult life, going quite a number of years back, I’ve come to discover that family isn’t all it is cut out to be. When a family member dies or is incredibly ill, people argue over trivial things that isolate them for years. Money and posessions become the most important things versus the grief and the loss and the need to lean on one another for support. I heard the classic story of the great-aunts who wouldn’t speak to one another for 40+ years over….a quilt. A damn quilt. And when they did start speaking, it was almost too late….one of them had suffered a stroke and wasn’t quite herself. At least they made the decision to reconcile before life ended for either one of them. And what of the quilt? No one knows for sure.

When stressed out, people do things that aren’t necessarily noble - at times they can be downright ridiculous and are usually directed at family or close friends. The death or illness of a family member always seems to take a toll. Stress sucks…responsibility sucks…throw them together and it can be like napalm in the morning. But funny thing…how things go next will dictate the character of those involved. Resolving the stress, helping one another, working together, offering forgiveness and the occasional, well-placed apology goes a long way.

In the toughest of times, instead of punching your sibling or your cousin or your parent when they are trying to do what they feel is right - as hard as it may be - offer a hand, an ear, your heart. Forty years from now the quilt won’t matter, but your memories and your family will.

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