By Michele Potter
Having recently attended two family reunions, I have been thinking about the power of blood ties. I was lucky enough to grow up close to extended family in the Midwest. Picnics in the summer, holiday gatherings, and sleepovers at cousins were all part of my childhood. At the time, I thought everyone had the same kind of experience and completely took my family for granted.
Once out in the world, it came as a bit of a shock that many people, because of distance, dysfunction, separation, or loss, had little or no family. The people I met shared stories that hurt my heart. One girl told me how she had found her father, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot; she said she felt nothing but disgust. Another said her parents’ bitter divorce and long custody battle had effectively made her feel like an orphan.
My family had their differences and disputes, but we always knew deep down that we were there for each other. I remember my teenage years as a perpetual war of wills with my mother, but in the end, we called it a draw.
Through the years, we have lost members, a sad time for gathering together and sharing. At my age, I have attended too many wakes and funerals for people close to me. Where once I considered such rites maudlin and unnecessary, my views have changed. Being the person in the receiving line accepting condolences changes one’s perspective.
I think of all this because a dear family member is dying. Cancer is making its final assault, and his days are numbered. Throughout the long process, he has made every effort to see and talk to everyone, attend reunions, and keep a positive attitude. “There’s always someone worse off,” he often says. I think of the many times I’ve wallowed in the “pity pot” and feel ashamed.
He has stayed with us longer than the doctors predicted, which I believe is due to the support and love from all sides. I cannot imagine coming to the end of one’s life and not having family ties. Recently, he asked me to gather some funny family stories to tell at his funeral. He wants people to laugh.
I hope we can all laugh through the tears.
OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.
Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction antholgy BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.