Thursday, December 6, 2007

Orbiting

It's been 15 years since the five kids were all together. Had I not been nine months pregnant in 1996, it would have been 11 years; alas, I did not go to my mom's wedding then.

We are far-flung as far as Americans go. My sister and I are in California; my mother and two brothers are in Florida; my oldest brother is in Alabama. But the distance that separates us can't be measured in miles.

It is measured in lives. My life revolves around raising three kids. The lives of my Florida brothers revolve around hotels and restaurants. My Alabama brother's life revolves around work, his church and his cocooned family. My sister's life revolves around her husband and her job. We all revolve in different worlds, and the gravitational pull of my mother has not been strong enough to get us together emotionally or physically.

Until now. For a period of 19 hours, we were all in the same place at the same time. And all of us were sans significant others, except the significant other who is my mother.

We have the photographic proof that we were a family for less than a day. We agreed that talk of religion was tabled for the period of time. We did not agree to table discussions of childhoods.

And so we came to understand that, although tethered together in youth, our lives were markedly different. We were all in Virginia together for five years and in Hawaii together for four. But we were apparently living different lives, and the differences cannot be attributed merely to age.

How we recall our lives in such different terms, how we define ourselves in such different terms, boggles my mind. How can one recall an idyllic time while another recalls only horrors? And neither can see that the other's memories are valid. We're talking same genetics, same environment until the youngest was 13. We were living different lives. And we continue to live different lives.

I am grateful that my oldest brother joined us. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to my mom. I think it means a lot to him. I hope it does.

Now it's back to our different lives, with a hope -- God willing, not a false one -- that we can find it within ourselves to reach out, to strengthen the gravitational pull that is, after all, family.

17 comments:

lilly said...

family is something im yet understand..blood relations stand a good stead when al the faky friends leave u ...my experience..it pays to enrich ur familial ties...blood is surely thicker than water..

Wonders said...

It's amazing how different we can be within the same family!

Bren said...

And family really is what it's all about! :)

sandy shoes said...

Interesting.

My husband is one of five; his siblings' recollections are quite different from his, as well.

Families are funny, powerful things.

SusieJ said...

This can be so hard -- but you have family in your heart and soul -- the love is what counts.

Gina said...

All of my family is here, so our orbits are in very close proximity.

But I always do think it is strange how one family member will recall something that happened in a totally different way than another.

I hope the next time you see them all will be sooner than 15 years!

D... said...

I have always been fascinated by how different people perceive the same situation differently. It has happened in my family as well.

I think that it's great that ya'll had this time together. It was probably the best gift ya'll could have given your mother. I, too, hope it was enough to strengthen the family bonds.

Josie Two Shoes said...

THis was so nice to read about. I'm really glad your brother attended this gathering. I have the same experience of very different childhood memories when my sisters and me talk. As you note, it is hard for one to accept the validity of the other's story and perspective. Funny, isn't it? I can just imagine how blessed your mom felt to have you altogether, especially sans spouses. I live for the day when I can have both of my children together with me at the same time.

jenica said...

i am so glad that you had this opportunity! i really hope that the bonds between the five of you will grow stronger and you can find similarities in things other than memories. families are tough, emotional things so often. but i'm so happy that you were able to be with all of them at once!

Jeni said...

Considering the concern you had initially expressed about your older brother coming forward, I'm glad you all were able to be together if only for 19 hours. As an only child, I don't have any siblings with different takes on growing up. However, a cousin of mine who is the same age as me and who spent every Christmas and most every other holiday, plus his parents vacations, etc., here where I grew up and I just realized a few years ago that we each had a totally different opinion of our grandfather. To me, the man was virtually a saint and I adored him. He was quiet, good, kind and strong and my cousin admitted he was in fear of Grandpa, always thought he was stern and mean. I lived with out grandparents - my cousin lived 130 miles away from here -so we each saw a completely different person in our grandfather. (My description however, was accurate -he was a good, quiet, kind and strong man. Trust me.)

Toni said...

That whole thing where everyone lived together but experienced something completely different reminded me of my mom and her family. My mom recounts (sincerely) a wonderful, idyllic childhood, marred by only a few bad memories, my aunt, though, has few fond memories and thinks of her childhood as horrible. Two people, one family, only 15 months apart.

I am so excited for you and, especially, your mother that this gathering happened. I hope that you can reconnect with the entire family at some degree.

A great post, as usual...

chichimama said...

Perception is a bizarre thing, isn't it? Glad you were all together, even if you don't necessarily agree on things.

WorksForMom said...

Wow, amazing post Patios. I so can relate to this. We, too, are all spread out and (physically and literally).

The image (and that shot) of you all reunited (SANS spouses) just warms my heart. Even more importantly, I bet it melted your Mom's heart.

Amy said...

i'll be thinking of you. i hope it's a good time for you. though i am close with my sisters, i know how complicated families can be. my extended families are very confusing.

Bubba's Sis said...

Families are indeed hard to comprehend sometimes - but how wonderful that you were all together, and what a perfect time of year to do it! I pray that those bonds are strengthened and that you will all be together again sooner than another 15 years!

Alpha DogMa said...

I'm glad you brokered a peace treaty. 19 hours would feel like 19 years to me if I had a family reunion. And I've only one brother.

Linda said...

My family isn't close though I wish that we were and even though we all live in the same State and within 20 miles of each other, we very rarely seem to get together except for the occasional special occasion. Thankfully we all seem to remember our childhood the same way for the most part but I wish we were closer.

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