03 May 2010

Family matters

I have been reflecting (ugh, it's all I do lately) the last couple days on families: who they are, how they interact, what they mean, especially for us in adulthood. My own familial relationships are complicated, but I'd guess yours are, too. The most intimate part of my family, my primary relationship, has gone away, and so the notion of what family is has to be recalibrated. Along with that absence is the absence of his family, who had become my family, too. Their absence now recalibrates the notion of family for me as well.

But other parts of my family have shot up like spring flowers to fill the void, to mask the bare spot. After a few weeks of spotty communication (surgery, busyness), I talked to my mother last night for an hour. She started the conversation with, "I just want to hear about you." Well, you don't need to ask me twice. After (of course, because this is all I can seem to do the last couple weeks) bursting into tears, we talked and talked, about the past and the future, and it felt great to have a mom to myself for an hour.

A couple weeks ago, at the tail end of my disgusting surgery recovery (maybe we can have a post just devoted to those charming days, or better yet, maybe Sous Blogger and Prof K of Ye Olden Days can fill you in; and does it drive you nuts, these long parentheticals I can't seem to stop with? I'm fairly certain I could never get a book published simply because an editor would need a flowchart to read the manuscript. Anyhoo.), my father came for a visit. He had been in Brookings, SD for a quilt show (which, by the by, is another post for another day). He extended his trip to come see me, and I was a bit apprehensive. If you know me at all you know that my father and I have had a tenuous relationship for many years. I have been grateful for the thaw over the last couple years, and this visit was pure joy to me. To have family come see me in about my sorriest state felt good, and I was reminded just how much he and I have in common (I'll get to that quilt post soon). We talked over a long lunch (mine was apple juice and a single scrambled egg), and my Foster Parents (next paragraph), had him over for dinner that night. We spent a fun evening poring over his six albums of the 250+ quilts he has made (yes, yes, the quilt post). I cried when he left, and was purely happy for like, an hour. 'Twas a good day.

My dear friends Deb and Phil, or, the Foster Parents, have been the truest definition of family to me in the last three months. At a crisis point they prepared a guest room for me in a matter of hours, and I have been here ever since. They have fed me and nurtured me and left me alone and let me sit on their bed and weep and let me be really, really angry (actually they've encouraged that). They nursed me back to health and when that was done they got out the steam cleaner for the rugs (again, a very. bad couple of weeks). We laugh and talk and watch Sarah's House on TV and go on outings; it has been easy and good to be here, and they are—in their own understated, casual way—making sure that someday I will be okay.

And many friends, so many of you, have been family, not just during Boring Scott in Crisis Year, but for so long, in so many ways. What fun it is, as adults, to get to be family to each other: I think it is one of the best parts of being a grownup. I was reminded of that clearly today, thanks to our pal, Facebook. My first cousin, Eric, and I chatted for over an hour today while we both should have been working. Eric and I last saw each other as kids, and over the last few months, sporadically, timidly, we've gotten to know each other a bit, and find that we are insanely alike. That little bit of genetics in common is a fun jumping-off point, a boost to a nascent friendship, but the most fun part of today was to write to each other about real stuff, to relate to each other as adults with a bit of shared history but a lot of mutual respect and goodwill. The lucky bastard lives near California wine country, and when we talked about me visiting someday, I said that I'd happily stay in a B&B (he and his wife have one and a half babies), to which he replied, "No you won't, you'll stay here! You're family!" And I am.

And also? Cousin Eric maybe didn't use so many exclamation points; he's a writer, after all, and you can—and should—buy his novel here.

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