I'm still amazed when I come across someone whose family is intact and nearby: aunts, cousins, grandparents, Mom and Dad, and siblings all in the same town, county, or just state. My "family of origin" has scattered so far that even annual get-togethers are difficult. Now even my own nuclear family has broken apart due to divorce and my recent move 2000 miles away.
The youngest child in a family of six, I don't like this. I turned to my big sisters for advice, my Mom for long talks and comfort, and my Dad for wisdom and a clash of wills. We fought, laughed, sat down to my Mom's fabulous meals, and co-existed as if it would go on forever. I miss them fiercely, love them deeply. I want them close by me.
The same is true of my beautiful daughter, now 21 and in college in another state. She is so independent that even if she lived close by, I'm not sure she'd let me mother her much anymore. I'm proud and sad about this. We cried and cried when I got a job so far away. I miss her loveliness, goofiness, and ability to surprise me with her dedication to school, part-time job, and boyfriend, and her two small, adorable dogs that she is mothering quite well.
I connect with all of them regularly through phone and email. I like to talk to them often so the little details aren't lost to the big picture. Did you find anything good at the mall yesterday? Are Cali and Coco still wearing the pink sweaters? How was the big visit with the aunts? What did you have for dinner? What did the doctor say? Are you meeting some nice people in your new place?
Lucky woman, I am. Out of an unhappy marriage and into a job I love and that pays a bit. The State I've always liked best is home. My two Bichon Frises are holding their own at 16 and 14 years old. No major health issues. I am ecstatically yet cautiously open to what comes next, be it learning to ride a horse or writing some bad short stories or falling madly in love. One of the many things I treasure about Arizona is that the night sky is so bright with stars. A friend says, "You are right where you're supposed to be." I see those stars and think he's probably right.
My family, my friends sometimes blur together after all these years. I love the people I grew up with; we saw where we each other came from and get it. And I love my newer friends who care about me, who genuinely want me to be happy and who love me just as I am. I am blessed to know a great many smart, talented, and hilarious people - people who can admit they've got faults and whose faults make them beautiful to me.
So. Got through my first Christmas alone in over 50 years, now on to New Year's. I'll be calling my family and laughing, smart asses that we are. And I'll be toasting friends and talking to them, too, maybe even at midnight if I can stay awake. They are all my family, precious and unique.
Family = love. Sometimes it feels my heart is filled to bursting.