Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Births, Marriages, and Deaths.

With a recent birth in the family, followed almost immediately by a death, it is understandable that I woke up thinking about family this morning. I have written before on this blog about how families are spread out further these days, and how that close contact of my youth has come down to emails, text messages, and rare phone calls, in most cases.
So please forgive the familiarity of the theme.

By most standards, England is a small country. Many of my American blogging friends live almost a continent away from close relatives, and are used to travelling great distances to see them, and having to deal with time-zone differences too. But in this country, one hundred miles is considered to be a very long way indeed. Traffic, unreliable public transport, weather difficulties, and the high cost of tickets or fuel can make physical contact a real issue. Decide to move a long way from your family base, as I did, and you have to accept that there will be less contact, few visits, and only occasional meetings. Add to this the fact that most people are still dealing with having to work, or raising young families, and that tight family unit of the past becomes a fond memory, no longer practical to achieve.

But three things still bring that family together. A new baby, a wedding, or a funeral. Meeting children who now look like adults, having to explain who you are, and what your position in the extended family is. Re-telling family stories, recounting memories of old parties, humorous events, trying to keep such recollections alive in the minds of the younger relatives. Sometimes, old photos appear. Faces unknown to some, familiar to others. We are stiff and uncomfortable in our rarely-worn formal suits, and perhaps a little upset that so many there don’t actually know who we are. Introductions complete, identities established, we proceed into whichever of the three ceremonies awaits us, once more a family.

If only for one day.

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58 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. With my family being in a different country I don’t even normally see them for those occasions. Fortunately Mr O’s family has pretty much adopted me and Little O gets to spend a lot of time with his extended family, which is nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Moving countries, and continents is an understandably huge wrench, Abbi. Maybe when you do get the chance to return to Africa, the meetings are all the sweeter. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  2. It is so true Pete what you said. Big occasions are often the only way to reconnect. It takes a special person, an older relative to make everyone come together with stories and humor. We take too much for granted now. That we have time to do this. Even phone calls are not really enough. Social media is a joke truly. It’s not real but poses as real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some families have relegated relatives to the same status as ‘contacts’, Lara. The easy option, to tag in a photo post, or send a quick text to. But when people get older, they realise that the old family occasions they eagerly anticipated are now often little more than a gathering of strangers, connected only by blood.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps Rob and I were born in the wrong generation. People like you Pete, your mum, your aunts, uncles, cousins are our personal hero’s. Does that sounds like a crazy way to describe you and yours? Absolutely not. The chance to stand in your company and the rest of this special group of people is so cherished. And you are the glue that holds me and Rob to our much loved “older members”, and I thank you daily for that gift. OK, maybe it’s our fault that we have let life get in the way of having more family gatherings than just at the ones you mentioned. But believe you me, there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not using your family values or your wisdom on a problem. I read your blogs, i get you, I understand, I feel close. And perhaps thats where this gets blurred. In this generation where a picture on facebook or an update on instagram or a quote to a picture seems to be enough to give a loved one the reassurance that they are being thought of rather than a letter or a phone call nowadays. We are guilty as charged. But nothing, nothing takes away the overwhelming feeling of belonging than standing toe to toe with you and the rest of the extended families going over those times that should never be forgotten. Even if it is for just that one day, everyone is family in that in that moment – no one is forgotten, everything and everyone is celebrated – I go home charged and fulfilled and proud to be one of you’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, and those kind words, Terry.
      Even though life gets in the way of how things used to be, that doesn’t mean that my family is any less cherished than it was. Those rare encounters are often all the more valuable, just because of the enforced absences.
      Love to all, from Beetley.
      Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Pete,
    your story is touching me so much. And I realize that that is absolutely true. Families are today smaller than in the past and far away! I don`t see my sisters very often and the nieces and nephews are almost lost sight of. Sometimes it is very sad!

    I wish you a wonderful Christmas Time. Kind regards from North Germany, Irene

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post πŸ™‚ I am back Pete πŸ™‚ Did you miss me πŸ™‚ I had been busy focusing on nothing but my recent blog post which I have finally finished πŸ™‚ I will post it soon, but you need to reed the usual spoiler alert warning in case you have not seen the film because my review would only make sense only If people saw the movie πŸ™‚ Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    P.S. did you hear that director Nicolas Roeg passed away a week ago? Very sad 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I recently travelled to the UK to see my Uncle before he died, sadly I didn’t make it on time, but I did meet many family members that I hadn’t seen or spoken to for many years or never even met before, which was great despite the occasion.
    Conversation about family came around and it seems that my Uncle was the glue that kept everyone together with his side of the family and he kept in touch with countless nieces, nephews and grandchildren, not to mention his own children from three marriages. This kind of made me think that it is perhaps the family that you come from that determines how it all sticks together in the future? It was no surprise that his brother, my father, never turned up for the funeral, which kind of reinforced this theory.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think it is true that the family revolves around the older members. After my Mum died, then her sister, we certainly seemed to have less impetus to arrange family gatherings. Now I am the oldest male member of my family, I very much doubt that everyone will be feeling the need to gather around me. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sometimes I struggle with what I should do and what I want to do when it comes to family. This is especially true since my mother has passed. But in her memory, I will honor my family and stay in touch. All in all, it makes me feel good…and I hope it makes them feel good too.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s how I feel too, Pete. What’s left of my small family in another country is also a case of what should I do and what do I want to do. We keep in touch on the phone and I mostly I go home to visit 2-3 times a year.
        A friend of mine in the next village says he’s very happy that his own two children, both living in different continents, have decided not have any children. It spares them long flights and annual visits to grandchildren who think of them as strangers and find their accent funny and ….

        Please come and see us in Cley next year. We can go for a nice walk with Ollie in the Loves country park or on the Coast path, whatever you feel like. πŸ™‚

        Love from the four of us in Cley,
        Dina

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have cut ties with my farther’s family after his death they became d/bags demanding a lot of stuff from his estate…..my daughter ‘s family and me and my much better half is all the family I need thee days…..chuq

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have a sibling who lives over 700 miles away. The other immediate family members live over twice that distance away (in different states), as do all my relatives. It’s been nine years since I’ve seen any of them. I consider your situation fortunate.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I drove 200 miles yesterday to see my grandson and son. I took him to his baseball game and we chatted in the car. Our lives are so different, Pete. It’s what makes this blogging valuable. To see your world from your perspective and understand how different your perspective is from mine. Yet, we share commonalities. Especially the birth, wedding, death call to action that has me buying a ticket to return to Illinois, my home state to visit.
    I think it’s interesting to note that some family members will go great distances to keep in contact while others live close by and won’t reach out hardly at all…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. That’s all very true, Cindy. I used to live very close (walking distance) to some friends and relatives in London, and hardly saw them. But moving 140 miles away to Norfolk, a journey that can take four hours in traffic, that gives them the excuse to never visit at all. And the reverse applies, as I no longer want to struggle with London traffic and parking problems to drive down there. It’s just life. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like to visit cities, but would not care to live in one. The traffic keeps me away, as you say. How bizzare it’s easier sometimes to hop on a plane and travel states away while traveling in a car driving 5 miles through a city is enough for me to hide in my house for weeks.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. When I still lived in London, my Mum lived less than 8 miles from my flat in Camden. It used to take me at least two hours to drive over to see her, sometimes much longer. I don’t miss that, Cindy, that’s for sure. πŸ™‚ x

          Liked by 1 person

  11. And after the wedding/funeral, promises to keep in touch fade away. However families can be special. When my cousin arrived from Australia to spend 24 hours with us at Xmas, as part of their grand European tour, we had not even met her husband and young teens before and she had not met my son-in-law, but as soon as they were through the door it was as if we all knew each other well.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t see my son & Grandson much at all as they are down South, but Phil’s family are all near and we see them regularly. A lot of North Easterners I know have extended family around them. I think it’s you London lot that have this problem, when you retire you sod off somewhere nicer (and cheaper) and leave your families to it 🀣🀣

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Weddings are so expensive now that many of my younger relatives choose not to bother with marriage. I go to more funerals as I get older, but with the death of my uncle recently, I am now the oldest male member of my extended family. Scary!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Same here Pete. I don’t get to see my relatives often. My grandfather on the paternal side has fifteen kids in all, two marriages. I don’t know some of my nieces (from cousins) personally. Some I’ve met through social media. And you’re right, sometimes too we only get to see them during funerals.

    Liked by 3 people

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