Monday, August 29, 2005

Is blood thicker than water?

Tess and I have been having this discussion about whether or not being related to someone obligates you to well...even like them.

I don't say this for any particular reason or because of any particular person. But I don't think sharing a few common strands of DNA is enough to obligate you to care about a person.

My mother comes from a family of 13 kids. Most of them reproduced. I have more cousins, second cousins and half-cousins then you can shake a proverbial stick at. And I don't really know a single one of them.

For that matter, I don't really know any of my aunts or uncles, either. I know their names: Edgar, Alma, James, Marion, Herbert, Gladys, Ira, Irma, Dorthy, Dewey, Thomas, Lawrence and my mother, Jennie Ruth. Edgar was killed in a small plane crash years before I was born. Uncle Tommy died last October. Uncle Ira, the one who believed the Red Chinese were tunneling under my grandmother's house to kidnap him, died a few years ago. Gladys (or Happy Butt as I used to call her) is also dead. I've pretty sure most of the rest of them are alive. I'm sure my mother knows, but if I ask her about them I risk getting the long answer.

My point is that there are so many relatives on my mother's side of the family that they are no longer relevant in my life. None of my aunt's or uncles (except for maybe Ira's twin sister Irma) ever even really acknowledged that I existed. I can't really blame them. They all had big families of their own to deal with.

So this could influence my feeling about family in general. Which brings me to my own family. I have two older brothers. I will publicly acknowledge here that I love my brothers. But I will also openly admit that I don't know them. I will also lay good cash money on the fact that they don't know me. And I can also safely say that they don't read my blog, so anything I write here about them doesn't have much chance of getting back to them. No that I intend to write anything bad about them. They are both decent men.

But I don't feel close to my brothers. My oldest brother lives in Oregon. He has found Jesus (apparently living in the less developed areas of western Oregon). I never see him (my brother or Jesus). My other brother still lives in Boise. I see him and his family once a year at Thanksgiving. Most of my contact with my brothers is through my mother. I called her last night. For some reason in the conversation, she told me Dan said that he and I have different senses of humor. My response was, yes, I have one and he doesn't.

I've tried to cultivate a relationship with my niece and nephews. My oldest nephew, R, reads my blog. This means more to me than he probably realizes (happy belated birthday, btw). I left Boise when R was four or so. I'd see him once a year maybe when I'd make trips back to Boise. I thought I was his cool uncle. I first realized that I wasn't that cool when I gave him a Beavis and Butthead shirt and he pointed out that he' d get beat up at school if he ever wore it. One of my proudest moments was watching R get married to K in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. They had an Elvis impersonator and everything. For once, I felt that if I'd done nothing else for R, I'd inspired him with a sense of the absurd.

My other nephew and niece live in Boise. I send them presents on a regular basis, thinking that this makes me a good uncle. Or at least it makes me closer to them than any of my aunts or uncles ever were to me. I've even tried writing them e-mails, but they are teenagers and never respond. I'm told being teenagers gives them special permission to be rude. Regardless, I have watched them grow magically from babies to teenagers in one year increments without a real clue about the gaps in between.

And now I have Tess' family. I have four new nephews and less than a month ago, a new niece. I don't imagine the nephews will ever view me as an uncle, but maybe the niece will. And once again I'm faced with this question about what defines family. Is it blood? Or is it more?

I mean, I don't have the answer.

10 comments:

shandi said...

OH BOY!!! Do I have a lot to say on this subject. I have given my blog address to ONE family member, my cousin Teri. She is the ONLY one I trust with it... and because of it... she is the only one that knows the real me.
No one else in my family has taken the time to get to know me. They are most comfortable with the naive little shandi image they have had since infancy and would bout die if they saw the filth on my blog.
"Poor little shandi is going to hell." "Hey, I'll say HI to grandpa for ya when i get there."
At risk of rambling... I'll stop here. But... loved the post. I can relate (no pun).

teri said...

And yes we have a shit load of family, many that I've never met. We will be going to hell cuz we haven't been in church for soooo long. If they knew everything about us...oh lord...we would never hear the end of it. Nice...I really like this post.

Tim ID said...

Shandi, It's all relative :). It does make you rethink what the term family means or should mean. You would think people related to us would be the ones who know us best.

Teri, hell must be getting pretty crowded these days. At least you and Shandi know each other. There is hope for family!

Buffalo said...

You can pick your nose, you can pick flowers, but you can't pick your kin.

Your true family is the circle of people you hold near and dear.

Tim ID said...

Thanks Buffalo,

Truer words were never spoken.

Lights in the wake said...

Good one. I know who all my relatives are but really don't know much about them. The odd thing is I come from an extended family that all pretty much live in the same part of the country and know each other pretty well. Since my father was Navy, however, I really only got to visit there once a year. They seem like good people and I wouldn't mind getting to know them.

John Q. Public esq. said...

ya know that was a damn good post...

you hit the nail on the head on a few things for me, reg. how I get along with my family and brother.

well done and good show!

JQP

Tim ID said...

Hey Lights,

Sounds like it would be worth the effort, especially if they are all in one area. I think most of my relatives are still in Boise. I suppose one way for me to get to know them would be to win the lottery.

And Thanks JQP, I trust the surgery was successful.

R. said...

Just so you know, I wore the Beavis and Butthead shirt until all the holes made the shirt redundant.

Currently I'm wearing this t-shirt:

http://www.cafepress.com/illwillpress.12600846

Only mine says "My Mom Over Medicates Me!"

My inlaws have a get together about every other month for the birthdays and holidays. Compared to how our clan does things it's quite a social shock. The upside of our clan's way is that no one sees enough of one another to really have family politics. The upside of my inlaws' way is that they seem more likely to unite to support a common front.

Tim ID said...

R,
Does this mean I can send you that South Park t-shirt now?

Yes, our lack of contact does eliminate conflict within our family. I think the bi-monthly get togethers with your new family is healthy. If we all lived in the same part of the country I'd suggest a similar system for your blood relations. Maybe you and Mrs. R should come to Dan's house for Thanksgiving. Tess and I show up there every year whether they want us to or not.