Family …

My mother once told me that when she and my father got married there were 200-plus people at their wedding, most of whom were family. Like most children, I never thought about a time when our family would stop growing and start shrinking. Children assume everyone they love will be around forever.

In actual fact, I’m lucky. Most of my family lived long and full lives. I was 15 when my great grandfather passed away, in my 20s when my great grandmother passed. One grandmother lived to 98, the other to 94. And I was an adult when most of my great aunts and great uncles died.

I’m thinking about this today, because my last remaining uncle just passed away this week, at 96. He was married to my mother’s younger sister, who is gone about four years.

Despite there being so many people these days who live to 100 and even past 100, by the time someone reaches their mid-to-late 90s, we begin to prepare ourselves for “that” phone call. And yet, when it comes, we are still shocked. At least I was when my phone rang early yesterday morning.

But I think what jolted me the most, is the realization of just how few members of my immediate and extended family are now left. My grandparents are gone, my parents are gone, my aunts and uncles are gone. What remains are cousins and their children. If there was a family wedding now, the head count would be decidedly less than at my parents’ wedding. At least in terms of family — and, for that matter, even close friends. Every one of my parents’ friends are also gone.

That is the reality of life.

We’re all so busy, and caught up in our own lives, in our own celebrations, in our own dramas and melodramas it’s like we live in a universe of our own. When I was growing up, the young ‘uns didn’t move away, like happens these days. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have family living all over the place — in different cities, different provinces, different states, different countries, even different continents.

When I first moved to Toronto from Montreal in 1985 I could count on seeing the majority of my family whenever I went back home to visit my parents. Not anymore. Not even before they all started to pass away. We’re everywhere.

Which is probably the only reason I’m still on Facebook. At least the few of us who are left can keep in touch and keep track of each other. We text, we call and we do see each other whenever we can, which isn’t as often as we’d like, because we’re scattered around. We try our best and we work at it. And I am so grateful for that.

Here’s something Rod Stewart said that I think just about sums it up: “You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day, it’s all about family.”

So make the most of the time you have with each other because really, it’s fleeting.




21 thoughts on “Family …

  1. Like you, Fransi, I was lucky enough to grow up in a long-lived and large extended family, with great grandparents throughout my teens and great granny still here to get to know her great-great-grandsons. Family occasions drew everyone, down to the third-cousin-twice-removed out of the proverbial woodwork and everyone knew everyone else.
    Few now are left and those scattered and out of touch. I am so glad my younger son was ‘adopted’ into his partner’s large and close-knit family. There are still great-grandparents and loads of aunts and uncles for my little granddaughters.

  2. So true, Fransi. It all goes by in the blink of an eye. Every day is a gift to share with those we love. 💞

    • Exactly Patricia. We’re all together one day and then suddenly (or so it seems) we’re not. That’s why it is so important to live in the present.

  3. I have few regrets moving as far north as I did, but one big one is not being close to family. We used to visit some family member at least twice a month. Now, like you say, if it weren’t for Facebook, we’d be totally isolated from each other. Thank goodness for cheap long distance rates, too!

    • I get really frustrated with technology and social media, but am also grateful for it because it keeps me connected to people I care about.

  4. A slightly different viewpoint, Fransi: Between my husband and I, we can count our remaining family members on two fingers, and we have little contact with either of those people. We both come from fractured and maladjusted families, thus the concept of family is not warm and fuzzy, but fraught with tension. Rather than Norman Rockwell images, think Pieter Bruegel. While I rarely think about family, I consider real family to be the friends we’ve made and kept along the way. I have a certain degree of envy for people who have large and loving families, but accept that is not and will not be our experience. And that’s OK (in fact, it’s often a great relief!).

    • Sorry you haven’t had a great family experience Donna. It’s more common than one might think. I agree that friends are like family, that has certainly been my experience.

    • It is the end of one era Claire and now, with those young ones, the start of another. Different of course because they’re not all in the same place like we were. The FaceTime generation.

  5. We are very fortunate to have grown into another family to take the place of our past family and they [believe it or not} now all live in Montreal.Two of them had moved away one to New York and one to Toronto. Fortunately,They both returned which is very unusual. We are at the stage where quite a few of our grandchildren have steady partners and a couple of weeks ago we had our first engaged couple.The excitement begins again.The generations keep repeating the circle,which is the way it is supposed to be. Thats life.!
    Enjoyed your Blog,Fran Love ya……..Joni

    • That is unusual Joni, you’re very lucky. And mazel tov. I can’t believe you have a grandchild old enough to get married. Wow! On my way into Montreal right now. Would have been great to see you, but this is a quick in and out trip, just for uncle Hank’s funeral. Next time. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Love you too ❤️

  6. Sad but true. My aunt lived to 100. She was blessed, but it was also very hard for her to watch her family members pass, one by one. She never had children but was fortunate to have nieces and nephews that kept her close.

    • She was fortunate, and also fortunate to live as long as she did. I think, as we get older, we all feel that sadness as our friends and family members pass on. And it’s also unsettling to confront our own mortality.

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