Family-Together, Together, Together

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Last weekend our family celebrated my father’s 90th birthday in California. My father is the second oldest living relative, Sol Greenbaum being the oldest, in the Rosenkrantz family and is very spry — he still drives everywhere, cooks, cleans, and takes care of his wife (my mother). Family members flew in from all over the country for this special event.

Our family is like many others, and at times, very confusing. My dad’s mother died when he was 14. Given that my grandfather was left with three young children, he remarried. His new wife’s first husband had died and after she married again, had then gone through a divorce. This grandmother that I knew had a number of children, one of whom was adopted by my grandfather. Given this complex situation, as a youth I had many questions as to who was really part of my family.

My dad’s 90th enabled me to discover in a new way who my family is and how important it is to break through stories that I had been told when I was a child.  On this occasion I was able to spend time with a first cousin and her husband who I really didn’t know, learning more about our family history through them. I was able to spend time with my beautiful children, who have both grown into incredible people. I spent time with some of my dearest friends, who I’ve know almost my whole life; and was able to watch basketball with my uncle, who I consider to be a mentor, finding out others consider him in this same light. I came to realize even more how much I love both my uncle and my aunt and their children who really are dear friends to me. I was able to understand further how service oriented both my sister and her husband are, as both of them put in many hours to make the party a success in the midst of an already busy schedule.

I haven’t lived near my parents for many years, but about a year ago we started talking on the phone daily, which has really helped keep us connected and part of each other’s daily thoughts. Being with them and participating in my father’s birthday celebration allowed me to see how much they are loved and how well they are integrated into their community.

From living in India and Nepal for seven years, and part of the time living with a joint family, I realized how important family is in both of these countries. Typically, families aren’t separated by great distances. However, as I’ve kept up with some of the children from Karjanha, Siraha, I’ve noticed that a number of them are going to school in different places in Nepal, some even abroad. Although their parents might live in this village their entire lives, I’m not sure that these children will ever return to Karjanha to live as there are few opportunities there.

Due to shared and very personal experiences, developing strong relationships with family members can be challenging. We don’t get to choose our families and sometimes life circumstances, such as with my family, put very different people together. But I’m not sure that developing relationships with family members should be that different from developing relationships with friends.

What this 90th birthday family gathering has taught me is that we should approach relationships through our own intuition and not let others dictate how things should be. In two months there will be an even larger family celebration in Seattle, which I hope will further develop these unique relationships. Maybe I’ll learn even more about my family, who through good times and also challenging ones truly is and has been an important and cherished part of my life on this planet.

 

Position: Director-EveryBODYPlaysNC

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