Edna Buchanan has said, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Thankfully, we have the option to choose our friends. Family is, for the most part, forced upon us. In fact, if we had the option of picking, we probably wouldn’t pick some of them.
What is left of my family is fairly local. Most reside in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, about 30 minutes away. However I have a cousin who moved his family to the state of Washington a few years ago. He’s in town for a visit this weekend so a gathering at his brother’s house was scheduled for yesterday. I looked forward to seeing my visiting cousin as well as my aunt, who I am also close with. The rest? Well let’s just say that I always have high hopes at the beginning of family get-togethers. By then end, I remember why they frustrate me so much. Between the excessive smoking, drinking, and internet gambling, the children who have had children they can neither afford nor do they want to take care of, the abusive (both mentally and physically) relationships, the dropping out of school, the lack of housekeeping skills, the amount of conversations that begin with “I posted on Facebook,” and the utter disregard of taking care of one’s health, my family is a mess. I’m not saying I’m a prize, but by the time I leave a gathering like this I feel like I’ve just visited the Clampetts.
My family is very small – just my mom and I in the immediate. I have an aunt and three cousins (along with their spouses and children) on my dad’s side. That’s it. Which is why, I think, I continue to make the effort with them. Sometimes I have this overwhelming fear about losing my mom and not having anymore family left. These visits don’t do anything to squelch that fear.