Thursday, August 12, 2010

The other side of family

I heard yesterday that one of my uncles died. My dad called yesterday to tell me he had heard his brother died from someone who saw the obituary in the Chicago Tribune and recognized the name. We found out in a similar fashion last year that his father died. It's odd. I haven't seen or spoken to my dad's side of the family in 16 years for reasons I won't get into here. So when I hear news of one of them, it feels a little... peculiar.

Growing up, I never felt particularly close to my dad's parents. I think when we were younger, they were a little more involved. But seeing them 3 times a year seemed a 'command performance' where we were to be on our best behavior. And once the first (and only) grandson was born, I just felt more and more that we were after-thoughts. Always feeling second-best, never good enough, is demoralizing. 

I can't say I've thought too much about the fact that there are other people out there with whom I share DNA. I even forget sometimes. We have so little in common - at least that I remember. Maybe things are different now, but they have never tried to reconnect with me. And for those reasons I won't get into, I prefer not to initiate. 

Last night's bedtime musing was spurred by all this. Chris and I are both much closer to our mothers' sides of the family. But we are close to both sets of our parents. I don't see any sort of break happening so the boys will always grow up with four loving grandparents. It makes me happy that we get along with each other's parents and our parents get along so well with each other. It may be weird, but they do stuff together sometimes - without us. 

And that's a really nice way to blend our families. I think it's much healthier than the oft-heard tales of woe between one spouse and the other's parents or between the two sets of parents. I like that we often spend holidays with everyone together, even when we aren't hosting. Yes, it makes it easier not to have to figure out how to divide holidays, but it also makes for a really happy, joyful time for us and the boys.

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