Sunday, 29 December 2013

My family reunion - Part one

On January 2nd Hubby and I are having lunch with a few members of my Dad's side of the family.  This might not sound like a big deal, but trust me it is. See the thing is, I haven't seen most of these people in over 10 years and the fact that we're seeing them now would go down really badly with my immediate family if they knew.  Will any other members of my family be there? Nope! So why is it happening? Well, because becoming a parent has made me realise just how important it is to at least TRY have a relationship with your family. 

The last time any of us have seen Dad's family was at my Grandfather's funeral. And even before that we didn't see them all that often. As a child I knew the reason was because we all lived so far away from each other.  Some of us in Queensland, some in New South Wales, and others in England.   But as an adult I learned that this wasn't the reason at all. When my Grandfather passed away it was sudden. He had something like a heart attack while swimming laps at the local pool and didn't recover. I'm uncertain as to whether any of his family knew he had a bad heart or any medical conditions because he wasn't a man who spoke about such things. He wasn't a man who spoke much about anything to his family at all. He was a military man who ran his home and his family with the same discipline as he'd learned in the army. And he held the same high, and unbelievably unattainable expectations of his children. He was not warm and welcoming, and as a kid becoming a young man my Dad did not find acceptance or pride in his Father's words or actions. Only years before his death my Grandfather attempted to repair the relationship he'd had with his children, but by then my Dad's scars were far too deep and he wasn't able to accept that he'd changed. 

In the years since we had no contact with Dad's family. It was always a sore point when we brought it up.  We've got Aunts and Uncles and cousins who we've grown up not knowing. At least until a few years ago when my Aunt S got in contact with me via Facebook (you've gotta love Facebook!). Turns out she missed me, thinks of me often and after a long chat I realised I have quite a lot in common with her.  She became a much-needed calming influence with nothing but wisdom to share during a time when my own relationship with my parents was rocky.  We spoke long and often via email and I finally began to feel a really family connection with her again.  Unfortunately she was living in London at the time but was soon planning on moving back to Australia.  

Well, that time has come! And in the few weeks she's been back in the country we've already caught up and have planned this impromptu family reunion with my other long-lost aunt and her children.  So Sunny Hubby, little Gracie and I will go to lunch and extend the olive branch. Just because my Dad isn't ready yet to mend the broken relationships he's had with them doesn't mean I can't. Now, more than ever, I appreciate and value family relationships.  For such a long time there have been people in the world who have loved me and yet I do not know them. I want at least to say that I tried to know them and to rebuild the part of my family tree that was broken all those years ago. I want my daughter to know how important family is. And that there is always another chance to repair a relationship. 

I don't know how it'll go tomorrow at lunch. I'm nervous, anxious and excited. I am worried that I will feel like the outsider, but I'm also very keen to meet my cousins who I've not seen since they were in primary school.  Whatever happens at least I can say I tried, I reached out. And if all goes well Gracie's family tree will grow bigger and stronger. 

Families are all so complex, aren't they?!

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