Family First?

Hello
again from Mountain Mecca & Hippie Heaven!

I read
an interesting news article this week en route to Red Deer Alberta. I’ll tell
you more about Red Deer and why we were going there further on, but first I
want to talk about this article. This was a small piece, only one paragraph,
though it should have, I think, been given more space, even the front page. 

Do you
recall the shooting in the Amish school about a year ago? It was horrific. Ten
young girls were tied up by a lone, non-Amish gunman; five were shot and killed
before the man turned the gun on himself– an inconceivable crime in a community
which lives by a code of non-violence and eschews the trappings of modern
society. Within days of the shooting, the Amish razed the school and no trace
of the building remained. This was to speed the healing process. Interesting.

But
here’s where it gets really interesting: Over 14 million dollars in
donations were sent from good-hearted people everywhere to help the community
after this tragedy. And the Amish, who place great stress on forgiveness, have
given a substantial part of that money to the widow of the gunman and her three
children. Not your typical thing to do, wouldn’t you say? 

Why is
this story so unusual? Because forgiveness, true forgiveness, is rare.
Why is it rare? Because forgiveness is difficult, sometimes impossible. Most of
us can think of a person or an incident from our past that still raises our
hackles. The pain may numb across time but it remains, like a tiny cancer. True
forgiveness requires empathy, compassion, and the ability to put our precious
egos aside and consider the feelings and needs of others. Yeah, like I said,
difficult.

The
concepts of empathy, compassion, and the feelings of others seemed particularly
relevant as we headed east to a city we’d never visit under ordinary
circumstances. But now let me talk about family for a moment. 

Isn’t it
amazing that you can have ten children raised by the same mom and dad, in the
same place, eating the same food, going to the same schools, etc., and they can
become ten completely different kinds of people? Prez and I are very different
from our respective families – I’m certain they would all agree on that. And
that doesn’t mean we don’t love them, quite the opposite. We love our families
dearly. Nothing would make us happier than to know all of our family members
are “healthy, happy & lovin’ life”.

But, at
the risk of you thinking I’m a terrible person, I must be honest. If we had the
choice between spending the day with family OR spending the day scuba diving a
tropical, coral reef somewhere in the Caribbean, well…um…er…sorry, but the reef
wins. (And I certainly hope our families would choose something they
passionately love to do over hanging out with us!) Mostly that’s because we’re
selfish bastards. We’ve chosen a certain lifestyle, one without kids and a
minimum of responsibilities, for a reason. We love our freedom. We love to be
able to go where we want, when we want, and do what we want… most of the time.  

We still
make time for family because, as I said, we love them dearly. And, lucky for
us, all of our respective families live on Vancouver Island, so we can plan a
visit and usually get to see everyone in the same trip. Yep, they all live
conveniently close to each other, all of them…except one.

There’s
always One, (inside joke – read last week’s Coconut Chronicle). 

Prez’
oldest brother, who I will call #1 Bro, has not lived close to the rest of the
family for as long as I’ve been in the picture, and even BP he was distant (BP
= Before Princess). He and his wife and daughter lived in a fairly remote town
in northern B.C. for a number of years, and now they live in – you guessed it –
Red Deer, Alberta.

#1 Bro
and family have made the journey to the coast on several occasions. Hey, I
won’t lie to you, they have made all the effort where getting together
with us is concerned and we have made none. In fact, 3 years ago today was the
last time they journeyed to see us, at our wedding. And until this past
weekend, Prez had never even set foot in his brother’s house. We are well aware
of our negligence. 

Why
didn’t he/we put aside a little time for a visit? Good question.

I think
mostly because we are just so different. Our world views, our hobbies,
our personalities, our lifestyles, everything about us is opposite. (Well,
except for our love of fishing, which is the one, strange thread running
through both of our families). The idea of driving hundreds of miles to spend
time with folks you have very little in common with seemed odd to us, no matter
how much we loved them – especially driving hundreds of miles to locations we
would never journey to on our own.  

And
wasn’t it their choice to move and live so far away? Logically, if you choose
to live far away from your family, you have to accept that you will be doing a
lot of traveling if you want to see them. Believe me, we know all about the
consequences of moving far away.

So, for
years we have justified our lack of effort, to ourselves, and gone on living
our lives. Afterall, we still saw #1 Bro and family at events from time to
time, so why did it matter where we got together as long as we got
together? Heck, I’d much rather spend quality time with my family on a beach in
Hawaii than in any of our houses! 

The
thing is, it mattered to them. And when it comes to people you love, at some
point logic and reason, self-delusional or otherwise, has to step aside. Egos
must give up their seat to empathy, and clear a path for compassion. When you
love someone, you have to do the right thing and consider the feelings and
needs of others. Something we failed to do for many years.

This
year, we promised #1 Bro, and ourselves, we would make the trek to Red Deer,
and say hello. And, 700 kilometers later, there we were.  

And
we’re glad we went.

It was
great to see this branch of the family tree on their own turf, to learn about
their jobs and friends, to share a few laughs and a few “remember when’s”. #1
Bro, however different from his younger brother, is a real sweetheart – the
kind of guy you want to have driving by you when you’re broken down on the side
of the road. He’s overcome some adversities in his life and has a lot to be
proud of, not the least of which includes his long-lived (23 years??) marriage
to a wonderful woman, and their beautiful daughter.  

Oh, and
he makes a wicked pina colada, too, always a useful talent in my books!

And,
while we won’t be moving to Red Deer any time soon, (no ocean and no
mountains?!?!), we’re glad they found this city which is booming and full of opportunities
for them. Currently, #1 Bro & #1 Sis-in-law are in charge of a large rental
apartment unit in the heart of the city. The job entails an enormous amount of
responsibility but they seem to have risen to the challenge and are doing a
textbook job. I’ll bet this job leads to bigger things. 

Our
visit was short, (the days on the calendar are disappearing faster than Britney
Spears’ self respect as we prepare to leave for the Cooks), but fun. Most of
all, I hope our 1,400 km round trip, not to mention the lives sacrificed by
thousands of insects on our windshield, helped, even a tiny bit, to show #1 Bro
that even though we’re selfish bastards, we still value the love of our family.

I never
thought I’d learn a lesson from the Amish, but I have. Putting aside your own
feelings and desires, even for a short time, is healthy. Thanks again to #1 Bro
& #1 Sis-in-law for welcoming us into their home. 

And for
putting up with us all these years.

Oh, and
here’s a great movie to watch: “God Grew Tired of Us”. It’s a fantastic
documentary which follows the lives of three Sudanese “Lost Boys” who immigrate
to America. You will laugh and cry…and I dare you not to feel a little more
compassion, a little more empathy, and a little more forgiveness for all
immigrants after the movie ends. 

QUESTION:
Are you and your family members alike or different?

Until
next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The
Princess

This entry was posted in Family & Children. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Family First?

  1. Cindy says:

    I think we are more alike than we are different.  We don\’t have too many family get-together even though most of us live within an hours drive of each other.  I\’m not sure why that it is.  I think it might be because we don\’t have anyone who makes a wicked pina colada and even if we did … most of them wouldn\’t drink it.  Me?  I could use a killer colada right about now.
     
     

  2. Kristene says:

    Cindy – If you come visit us in the Cook Islands, I promise I\’ll make you a pina colada! LOL. I can\’t even consider booze today as ESP Tim was EWP Tim last night! (Evil Wine Pouring Tim).

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