As a youth I was closest to my paternal grandparents. Still, I never really got used to an extended family and didn't feel much of a connection to either side of my family other than a few individuals for the most part. I was always the quiet kid, alone with my thoughts, rarely trusting anyone enough to share with them who I was or what I felt about anything. I grew up used to living with just a handful of people in the same apartment and even with them feeling as if nobody really knew me or even wanted to.
My wife's experience growing up was while not the same did share some similarities as far as her parents not being around a lot. As such she and her brother Gary were left to fend for themselves at times. Still, most of her life was lived in a big house with a lot of family under the same roof. There were always aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents to live in and around. As such it must have seemed like there was always something going on or somebody to do it with. My son appears to be enjoying his time with his extended family along with the extra attention I'm sure.
His three year old cousin that lives close to Memphis was also able to go to Peru and spend time with the family. I remember when she and her mother came to visit with us for Christmas and it was only the second time she had seen us. She didn't really remember us because the first time she had just turned one year old. Shortly after getting here she started to ask my wife and myself "Are you my family?" It was adorable to hear but to me it seemed as if having a larger family was something she was craving.
Hearing my son talk on the phone over all these miles makes me think that perhaps he feels the same way. He doesn't just want more family, he needs them. Maybe I'm only fooling myself with selectively remembering my past the way I do. Did I really crave a larger family or at least more contact with the ones I had who accepted the geeky, awkward loner that I was (and in some ways still am)? It's hard to say with hindsight being the way it is. I'd like to find a way that would allow my son to have it all without sacrificing anything. Of course life rarely turns out to be that easy now does it? Still, if I could find a way.............
Written and Published by Don Leach.
May not be used without permission from the author.