Close family members who are total strangers

  1. After a funeral and resulting get together with long lost family members, I sat down and wrote down my thoughts on how I've lost touch with these people who share my blood, and why.

    Close family members who are total strangers

    Alternate title: Family; what a strange word.

    So, yesterday was my step-grandfather's funeral. We always called him "David". That was how we knew him. He was my Grandma's third husband. Her first husband was actually my mother's biological father, whom my mom never knew. Her second husband was my mom's adoptive father, and the man that I called Grandpa.

    Most of the funeral attendees were members of David's family. Though my Grandmother and David had been married for most of my 45 years, I had never gotten to know any of his family. So of course, I found myself in a room full of strangers, save for my brother, my parents, and a family friend who accompanied us to the funeral. At one point I decided to exit the funeral chapel and make my way down to the lounge, to find myself a cup of
    coffee and a bite to eat. Several attendees were also in the lounge, and I could feel their eyes on me, each of them wondering if I was one of Melba's folks, and if so, which granddaughter? Whose kid was I?

    After munching on a piece of pizza and sipping on some cheap coffee, I found my way back up to the chapel. There was my brother, chatting away with a young man, probably in his early 40's, whom I assumed was another one of David's people. He even bared some resemblance to my dear departed.. David.

    I later was surprised to find out that this young man was named Michael. As in, my cousin Michael. My first cousin, Michael. Son of my mom's sister. My first cousin. I found it so extraordinary that I did not know my first cousin from Adam. Okay, maybe it's not so extraordinary, really. After all, I had not seen this person since I was about eight years old. Well, unless perhaps, he had attended any of the family reunions that I had been
    to over the years, and no one had bothered to point out to me that he was present. I would not have known who he was on those occasions, either. First cousin. How can it be that first cousins can be total strangers? Aren't first cousins supposed to be your first friends in life? Your best friends FOR life? In most families that I've come to know, that always seems to be the case.

    My family is obviously different. I'm a grown adult though; have been for at least 27 years. In those 27 years, I suppose I could have tried harder to acknowledge that I have these family members whom, like them or not, I should know much better than I do. Now I'm sitting here at a desk at work, reflecting on meeting, again, this very close-in-blood family member whom I barely know. I decide to open Facebook.

    I look up yet another cousin. The son of my mom's full brother, Bubby. His name is Brad. He lives right here in my state, and actually works at a correctional complex where I almost took a job as a nurse. He is my first cousin. He is one of only two full blooded first cousins that I have. He's practically as close to me in blood as my dear brother. And he is a complete and total stranger.

    I look up his sister. Her name is Eriel. She grew up in Kentucky but now lives in Louisiana. She has pictures of herself on her Facebook page, as well as pictures of her children. She is
    beautiful and successful, and her kids are darling. She is my mom's full brother's daughter. She is a complete stranger.

    How did this happen?

    I think I understand how Mike, and Angela, and Larry Jr, and his sister Katie... how they became so separated from my brother and I. Mostly by distance, and time....What about Brad and Eriel? Full blooded cousins who grew up right here in the same state as my brother and I? Why are we not the best of friends? What if I sent them both a Facebook
    request? Do they even remember who I am?

    I believe I know. I think I know how it happened.

    My mom once told me a story. Well okay, she's told me this story several times... of her brother Bubby, asking my father to co-sign on a vehicle loan. My father, being the generous soul that he is,reluctantly (I'm sure) obliged. Bubby, in return for my dad's sweet generosity, decided not to make the payments on the car, leaving my dad with what I suppose was a heavily damaged credit record.

    That event damaged my mom's relationship with Bubby, and helped to ensure that I would never get to know any of Bubby's offspring very well. My mom still had enough of a relationship with Bubby, that they would visit each other sporadically over the years, but not often enough that I would ever get to know my cousins.

    Now, please do not think that I'm bitter towards my mom, for not visiting with her brother, and allowing me to play with my cousins. This is hardly the case. Because, for reasons besides the fact that my uncle ruined my Dad's good credit... I've come to realize
    that my uncle Bubby is a vile human being. Nevertheless, I would love to know my cousins.
    I am a grown woman now. I am 45 years old. Whether or not I decide to reach out and try to get to know these people who share my same blood and might as well be siblings... it is totally up to me. Whether or not they accept my attempts, is totally up to them.

    Might as well try. After all of these lost years, I might as well try.
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    9 Comments

  3. by   NurseBlaq
    My family experience is the opposite. I have aunts, uncles, and cousins I grew up around and don't have any desire to be around them now, nor do my children. When we're young all we want to do is play and enjoy our childhood.

    It's not until we're older and more mature that we understand the details of family dynamics and able to read people better. And when you're busy in college and working you lose touch of daily on-goings and have time away from the monotony.

    Once you have time to slow down and come back around you start to realize these people aren't who you thought they were and you don't like what they've become. Then we've had illness and death in the family and some of them have been nothing but greedy, conniving, and hateful.

    I speak to those who I still have some form of relationship with and avoid the others. Life has become so much more peaceful and less drama filled. You have to learn to love them from afar. You can't choose your family but you can choose how you let them affect your life.
  4. by   Davey Do
    Richard Bach wrote, "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.
    Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."

    Some true family members just happen to be linked by blood. Just because we're linked by blood isn't necessarily a reason to have a relationship with someone who doesn't have any respect or joy in the other's life.

    I have one family member, my younger sister Cat, with whom I share a both a bond of blood and joy and respect and I feel blessed to have that bond with her.
  5. by   toomuchbaloney
    My mother's family was wildly dysfunctional with a Catholic upbringing that apparently taught them shame, guilt, judgment, but not forgiveness.

    I have a half dozen first cousins who along with my aunt and uncle, blocked me on FB after Trump was elected. Their conservative political views were too important to them. They aren't very tolerant of world views which depart from their own.
  6. by   NurseBlaq
    Quote from toomuchbaloney
    My mother's family was wildly dysfunctional with a Catholic upbringing that apparently taught them shame, guilt, judgment, but not forgiveness.

    I have a half dozen first cousins who along with my aunt and uncle, blocked me on FB after Trump was elected. Their conservative political views were too important to them. They aren't very tolerant of world views which depart from their own.
    There are stories all over the internet of people getting divorced and cutting family off because of Trump. It's horrible what he's doing to the country.
  7. by   FranEMTnurse
    I have a sister whom hasn't visited me since 2007, and she lives in the same state as I. She has a brand new car, I don't even own a car. My car is a motorized chair, and It's unlawful for me to go on the interstate. She lives about 2 hours away.
  8. by   herring_RN
    Quote from FranEMTnurse
    I have a sister whom hasn't visited me since 2007, and she lives in the same state as I. She has a brand new car, I don't even own a car. My car is a motorized chair, and It's unlawful for me to go on the interstate. She lives about 2 hours away.
    I'm sorry Fran. It is her loss. I think she may regret it someday.
    .
    My grandmother was born in Scotland in 1881. As young adults they lived in Toronto.
    My grandmother sided with her older relatives, including her Presbyterian minister Papa in not accepting her sister marring an American Jewish man and moving to Sn Francisco.
    My mother tried and tried to help them reconcile and made sure we knew our great aunt and uncle. Finally they did more than 50 years later after my grandfather died. Those two good women foolishly missed each other for no good reason.
    That same grandmother had welcomed my Mom as her daughter-in-law even with religious and racial differences. Our Mom's side of the family enjoyed hundreds of good times singing along to our grandmother's piano while Daddy played trumpet.
  9. by   Kyrshamarks
    Don't feel bad. I have 9 brothers and sisters. I know who the oldest is and since I am the youngest who is next to me in age. What I do not know is what order they come in, what their middle names are, how old are they, where the live, their kids names and ages and even some of them who their spouses names are and how many kids they have and their ages. We all came from the same parents. I have not seen 7 of them for more than 15 years. Hell, i dont even have the phone numbers for them. I wil probably never see them again. I even have a brother that lives about 1 mile from me and i have not talked or seen him in 5 years. My kids dont even know their cousins nor do they care to. Seems pretty normal to me
  10. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    Scant # relatives, living far apart. Older brother and younger brother aren't very interested in keeping in touch. My older sister and I do keep in touch, but sometimes weeks and weeks go by in between. I just heard from a cousin I barely know. She's got a brother; they have been estranged for many years. That's the only blood from my family. None of us sibs have kids.
    That's it!
  11. by   peachtreednurse
    Although most families share bloodlines, extended families don't always, though they often share homes, feelings and belongings. Rather the hosts of families that exist simply as members of the same class or species, being related having little or no influence on establishing a bond of any sort, let alone those enviable of possessing love, or even respect.

    There is at least one type of shark whose occupants inside the same birthing space, kill and eat one another. (talk about sibling rivalry) and many tribes, packs, and countries of peoples and animals of similar to nearly identical likeness will still be bent on destroying one another for any gain at all, from money to property to some vague sense of power, privilege or prestige.

    Sometimes there are reasons for distance either physical or emotional and no matter the best of intentions one cannot gather each and every string and attach it to the heart. Be thankful for those closest and most meaningful that remain constant and others though brief, so glaringly special they surpass time contained intact and everlasting despite demise, birthright or returning to claim some prior state or space. After all life is one great strange mystery and in the end it's all relative to who we are...

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