I woke up this morning with poetic sentences yodeling from the tip of my tongue. Of course, I didn’t have the wherewithal to write them down while snuggled cozily in my bed. With a six year old sprawled across my legs, a four year old subconsciously fighting him over who gets the cushy area of my hind quarters, a dog in my face and a husband spooning me, it was impossible to get to a pen and paper. So now the words have been carried off into oblivion. Figures.
Poetry is too ceremonial for how I am feeling today anyways. Thoughts of family float in and out of my skull as I pound on the keys of this old laptop. My dad in particular. I think of the years I appointed him as my hero, the moments I inked him as the villain. I think about how on and off the two of us have always been. Since the birth of my children we’ve been on, which, by the way has taken great care on both of our parts as we are perhaps the two most stubborn people I know. Nevertheless, despite all of our shortcomings, I love the pigheaded man dearly.
Now forgive me if the following gets a little sentimentally sloppy, I’m sick with a cold and the Feels have caught up to me in my weakened state of mind. I always tend to gravitate towards writing about my family when feeling at odds; don’t ask me why, I’m not a brain doctor.
When I was 19 years old and about to set off on my first real journey, I hit a road stop before even taking off the parking brake. The problem at hand was that my mean old landlord at the time wouldn’t give back my damage deposit—I needed that money to get out to the west coast where I had decided to start my life, you know, like really really start my life. I cleaned the place spotless and pleaded with him amicably (as amicably as I get, I suppose) but he still contrived reason after reason to withhold the four hundred dollars from me. Back then, that amount of money was worth a small fortune. Hell, it still is!
Many things from my past have faded, now just morsels of memory suspend between conscious thoughts and hopes for the future, but not this. This recollection has always stayed clean and detailed in my mind. I had gone to my parent’s house after a particularly angry yelling match with this blasted landlord and I told Mom and Dad about my troubles. Dad was appalled. No one treats his family like that.
We hopped in Dad’s truck not ten minutes later and drove to my apartment building. With some words of conviction on Dad’s part I had the four hundred bones in my pocket before dinner time, and the next day I was off to Vancouver Island.
Dad is always unthinkably humble when I bring up this specific moment in time. “Oh well, that’s what family does.” He will say, or something textbook like that. He and Mama bear have always been firm believers that one must stick up for their own. “If you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.” They told me and my brother that a lot when we were kids.
Now that I am, admittedly, older and hopefully a little bit wiser I understand what “family” my parents were always preaching about. Perhaps they may not always be blood related. Maybe we fight with them, maybe we butt heads. Maybe we don’t share the same ideas and that can sometimes cause friction between us. Maybe we go months without talking or seeing each other. Families are the people that can participate in all these things and still love unconditionally.
I look at Lars, Sophie and Jamie and I know that they are my family. I can truly see what my mom and dad meant when they talked about family so many years ago. I guess my parents did have some pretty important things to say as I was growing up. Funny how those like-minded ideas begin coming to light at a certain point in one’s life.
Now however, as I teach my children and help them grow into the human beings they are meant to be I will take this meaning of “family” one step further. I want Lars and Sophie to know that they can treat anyone like family. To help those in need as though they were their kin, because in some universal way, we all are. Imagine the breathtaking world we could live in if we all had a “that’s what families are for” approach to one another.