Why is it that family members feud? I can understand immediate family members sometimes don’t get along. But what annoys me is when something happened a generation or two back and folks carry on because ‘we don’t associate with that side of the family’.
I knew from an early age that we (mom, dad, and me) didn’t ‘get along’ with many people from my dad’s side of the family. Never knew exactly why but I knew there was bad blood somewhere down the line. Dad glossed over it – sort of like rain falling off a duck. But mom seemed to seethe and simmer. Consequently, I only knew my cousins on my mom’s side. They were the ones we spent holidays with and visited throughout the year. I knew there were other cousins, aunts, and uncles on my dad’s side but I never got to visit with them. I knew who they were, all of their names, and often heard stories about them but I didn’t know them at all.
Some of that changed when I got engaged and married. I recall that everyone from dad’s side of the family was invited to the wedding. Mom wanted everyone to see that I was ‘better than the rest’. I personally had no interest in flaunting myself before folks I didn’t know – I was happy, I was in love, and I was getting married. I drifted apart from the cousins I knew and grew up with (mom’s side of the family). The others were simply there.
Now, years later, I was thrilled to actually connect with one of my cousins from dad’s side of the family. I’ll call her Penny (fictitious name). Penny and I reconnected through a social networking site and spent hours on the phone talking. She couldn’t understand why they (cousins) were kept from me either. We resolved never to let bygones keep us apart. I was grateful for the contact with Penny because it filled in a lot of gaps in my family knowledge – especially medical knowledge. Penny and I communicated for slightly over a year. We had even gone as far as planning a meeting of the cousins.
Then things changed. I don’t know why but Penny stopped responding to my emails. I made several attempts to call her but her phone number was changed. Then she changed her email address. I could see that she was still active on the social networking site so I sent her a couple of messages there. All of this was over the space of slightly more than a year or so. Penny has not responded to any of my attempts to reach her. I’m grateful that she has two grown children to fill her life and understand that her family must come first. But I feel so bereft at losing her so shortly after having found her.
There seems to be a lot of value in just moving forward with one’s life, but wouldn’t my (and Penny’s) life be richer with having another relative in it?
So, I must ask the question: has past family history influenced Penny’s behavior towards me? If so, do either of us know what exactly happened in our families back in the early 1900s to keep us apart? Do either of us continue to care about what happened? Are we more interested in looking toward the future?
On a grander scale, should we allow arguments or misunderstandings between our parents and/or grandparents to keep us from knowing people who we would really like to have in our life? And Penny, if you read this, please know that you are loved and missed.
If you’ve experienced something similar and would like to share, feel free to leave a comment.