About Family …

I’ve been talking to a friend about family. It has me thinking about my own. What a strange, fragmented, dysfunctional mess that is.
My father’s name was Bob Lovelace. From all accounts he spent his days wandering. I never really knew him. He was some stranger named Bob who wandered through once or twice a year and said “hi,” and for whom I was supposed to have some measure of warmth and affection. But when he died in 1984, I had no idea who he was. And though I was crushed when he died, it hurt more on a primal level than a personal one. I grieved because some part of me was gone forever. Now I would never get to know the man. And somehow I always thought that I would.
I have an older brother named Jay, from my father’s first marriage. I don’t know if he goes by Lovelace. I don’t know where he lives. I’ve never met, talked to or written him. I’m told that my father’s maternal half-sister, Margie, stayed in touch with Jay’s mother, Carol. But she never saw fit to share this information with me.
I have a younger brother, Justin (from my father’s third marriage – okay, half-brother, though I’ve never thought of him like that). We’ve met. Though we had met previously when he was a kid, we really only got to know one another when our sister, Tanya (his sister, from the same marriage), died in 1991 and I went to New York for the funeral. We stayed in touch okay for a few years. But now about the only connection we have is being on one another’s friends list on our MySpace pages. I write the occasional e-mail, but he never responds. I have his cellphone number, but he never answers or calls back. We (my mother and I) got a Christmas card from Justin and his mom last Christmas. I was shocked. I had stopped sending them cards years ago because I had no idea where to send them.
In the past few years I’ve come to know my father’s paternal half-brother, Allen. That’s a bit of a strange relationship, too. Allen and my father never met. I stumbled across his phone number one day and gave him a call. Allen threw open his arms to me (and by extension to Justin). I’ve attended several of the newly annual Lovelace reunions. But I’ve never been really comfortable among them. No one seems to know what to make of me. And though Allen clearly wants to maintain familial relations, I get the impression that it’s something that he feels like he should do, rather than something he has any real enthusiasm for.
And I guess there you have all things Lovelace. I won’t go into my estrangement from the Blackwell/Montgomery clan in South Carolina. Or from my adoptive father’s Childers enclave (my mother’s second marriage). The only close family I have would be in my mother’s Chaney clan. And even they don’t know what to make of me (I’m beginning to see a pattern here). At least with the Chaneys (and the associated Gladdens, Millwoods, Rheas and Shorts) there’s a basic familiarity and acceptance.
But I would have to say that at the end of the day, however I may like, regard and/or respect all the rest of them, the only close family I have is my mother. So many times in our lives each other was all we had. And when she is gone, there will be no family for me. However much the rest might claim to love me, there’s no one else who would throw open the doors to their home if I needed a place to stay, or feed and clothe me if I was hugry and destitute. And though there are those in the extended family, with lives are filled with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who intimate that I’m a mama’s boy because of it, I consider that my mother is the only family that I really have. When she is gone I will be a vessel unto myself. And there be nothing to hold me here in this familiar company.
I may look around me and marvel at the families I see, that I can never really be a part of. But I know that when my mother is gone, I will do just fine. I’ve learned from her a quiet, determined strength. And though I envy those with strong familial ties, I don’t feel lessened without them. Indeed, I feel that those who might not wish to be close to me have not been so at their loss. Because if I am nothing else, I an a constant.
These ruminations have gone in all sorts of unexpected directions. I should probably delete everything. But I won’t. However rambling, incoherent or insane, this is what I feel. But I think this once I’ll hedge my bets and I won’t post this. Somehow it makes me uncomfortable to think of people reading it (not a problem I’ve had before, apparently). I wonder what that says about what I just wrote. It’s quite possible I should go back and read it.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments