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8/26/2008

Why Do I Feel Guilty

Family is such a precious thing. I wish, at times, I was a better father, that my sons would listen to me closer, because I have so many things I want them to know and understand before I die. So many things I want to be able to say to them so that they KNOW.

I have always told my sons to treat each other with love, kindness and understanding. I have tried to make that the way they treat and deal with everybody. I have tried to make them understand that a time will come when all they will have left, is each other. Brothers. And in the times that come when they need to be able to reach out and turn to someone for help, for guidance, for understanding, the first one they should look to, should be a brother. Because they are FAMILY. And family is always first.

My father's family is now largely gone. I have a few cousins I haven't seen since we were kids, but everyone else is gone. But Mom's (Grannie) family is large and vital and growing and I am a virtual stranger to almost all of them, anymore.

Mom's brothers (4) had kids, my cousins. My cousin D and her husband Bu, who I've written about before, live not far away and D sees Grannie regularly. Other than D, I don't see any of my extended family regularly. There are cousins on Mom's side of the family I've never even met.
For someone who feels as strongly as I do about family and 'connections' and about how important it is to have a feeling of 'place' in the world and how family gives you that, I have done a very poor job of helping to hold my family together.

Grannie is the last of her brood. All of her brothers have been gone a long time, now. She is at the 'top of the tree', if you will. When she is gone, D will hold her family together, because she's good, really good about stuff like that. She is such a sweet heart. Two words. On purpose.

But it's my other cousins. The ones I used to see growing up. The ones that are scattered all over hell and creation. They and their families should be part of the larger extended family. And they're not and haven't been for a long time. And I feel guilty. Like a hypocrite. I preach the value of family and yet I don't do as I preach.

I am the son of the oldest living member of the family that gave rise to a lot of really great people. Do they need me? Do they need to have their feeling of place expanded to include the whole family? I am failing in some duty if I don't pull them all together? And why is this so on my mind lately? And why do I feel guilty?

Now on to other business. I'm not going to link back to her comment, but yesterday, the lovely, erudite and obviously psychic witchypoo suggested that I need to carry a 'man's purse'. I actually do carry a manbag. It was during an experiment, on my part, meant to reduce the need to carry that bag, that I lost the keys and the gift card. Mentioned in yesterday's post - and no, I'm not linking. Anyway, I promised witchypoo (I keep typing witchpoo and it's REALLY frustrating because one of these days I'm not going to catch it before it gets published and when that happens, I'm going to catch it. So to speak.) that I would put up a photo of the manbag - so here it is. On my person. In action, so to speak.

Now, before you go off and tell me how big that thing is, I have to tell you that the picture was taken with my phone and the bag is really kinda close to the camera. So it looks big. Like my gut. But like everything else, it's not as big as you think. (right shoulder angel - "You know you shouldn't tease like that. It's not nice." left shoulder devil - "Aw, go ahead, they won't even notice.") The right shoulder guy needs to remember I'm left handed.

42 comments:

jientje said...

My Left shoulder angel is giggling at the moment, I think she likes your left shoulder guy!
I'm left handed too, what do you know!

maggie's mind said...

"Manbag" makes me think other than intended, but you call it whatever makes you smile and helps you quit losing things that get you in trouble. :)

I do wish that I was more connected with my extended family, too. You are right that it has to be deliberate or won't really alway just happen on its own.

Shadow said...

you know that left-handed people think with the 'right' part of their brain, don't you? i'm a lefty too...

nicole said...

Family....getting in touch with them might open up a can of worms. It usually does when hubby connects with his. With mine, well, we usually don't get far.
I understand the guilty part, but at least I don't preach the family values. I have the easy part here ;)

I'm gonna get hubby one of those bags for the next travel. I'm tired of his crying at the airport because of emptying all his pockets of the crap stored in them ;)

jientje said...

I suppose life just takes you there sometimes. As a child I used to see the cousins and the nephews whenever we went to visit my grandparents. And then later, when the grandparents are gone, you only got to see them at weddings and funerals. I think that it was about seven or eight years ago that my youngest cousin got married ... I hate to think how I'll feel when we get to the funeral part ...
Same story, or even worse at my husbands side of the family. When my father in law died, shortly after the whole family fell apart.
My husband does not even see his mother NOR his brother anymore.
I don't think there is a way to undo all of that, it's sad, but that's the way it is. I went to London with my two sisters, hoping to get to know each other a little better, and make up for lost years. That only worked up to a certain extend. I don't think we can be "the way we were" anymore, I just hope we can remain good friends after our parents are gone. But even good friendships evolve. I think that's because we change too, don't you think?

witchypoo said...

Any chance of working with D to orchestrate a family reunion? For next year of course.
And? You forgot the "y" in the link. But never mind. It's a link. Links are good.
Look to your car for the missing items.

Patsy said...

We all seem to have the same story about family. Cousins I saw when growing up are now just seen at funerals --- I did go with Mom to her *big* family reunion this past summer. It was nice to meet some cousins whom I had never met, but it is sad to say too that I will probably never see them again. They live in the far northern corner of the States and I'm way down here. My husbands family gathers each year --- His dad had 4brothers and they started gathering their clans yearly about 25 years ago. It has been an annual thing ever since. I'm closer to many of those cousins than I am my own, but now there are only two left (hubby's dad and one uncle) and neither of them are in very good health --- I doubt if we continue to meet much after they pass --- Family, I just hope my girls stay close if only with a phone call or a birthday card. Life does seem to pull us apart instead of bring us together.
And one the other note, I like your man purse (oh, that's man bag).

Michael said...

I am a member of a bit of a dysfunctional family still we have always tried to look after each other.
Now my niece has come back to our aging parents home with a new boyfriend and she wants him to stay, weird setup cos my dad agreed to it, terribly naive of him I think

Michael said...

I am a member of a bit of a dysfunctional family still we have always tried to look after each other.
Now my niece has come back to our aging parents home with a new boyfriend and she wants him to stay, weird setup cos my dad agreed to it, terribly naive of him I think

Mary L said...

Family is first, I know how you feel and I am not fortunate enough to have a strong bond with my cousins either (they too are scattered across the country). I am trying to keep my siblings and our children close and that is the best I can do being the oldest.

Go Lou with the man purse! Not teasing :-)

moneythoughts said...

You know, I think a lot of us feel the same way as you do about family. The problem with society today is that children have to sometimes leave the city, state or even country to find work in their field or profession. We are being pulled apart by the forces of economics and each family taking care of themselves becomes the first order of business. True story. In the early 1960's, a few relatives of my father's generation died in the same winter. Relatives would come to the funeral home for the service and then go the to cemetery. (Jewish funerals are fast, you die and they put you in the ground right away.) Everyone would say to each other "may we meet on happier occasions." Finally, someone organized a summer picnic at French Park and relatives came to the picnic. It lasted until most of that generation died. Lou, it is a struggle to keep family together for everyone. I bet even the Amish have their own problems and they keep their society together pretty well. Even if gas was free, people would still not have enough time in the day to keep in touch as much as they would like to. You could try to organize a family reunion. Perhaps the next generation would pick up on it. For me, I have enough just trying to take care of myself and my children. Good luck and don't feel guilt.

Tash said...

Hey LOU! Been missing you and had a moment today to check my mail so stoppped in to see you, yes just you!

Wish I had time to chat anout family. Mine is huge and very close - but we have the benefit of living on a small island so it makes it easy to keep in touch. I'm sure your boys have heard what you've been teaching them.

And yes it does seem to be a mighty big bag for a left handed man with a devil on his shoulder. Thanks for the giggle.

Can't wait to get home and catch up on all your posts.

xoxo

www.ayewonder.com said...

Lou,
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my 35 first cousins in London. No more. But I do see them on occasion and the warmth is still there. People have independent lives and all of those connections, while still there, aren't as tight as they used to be. There's not much you can do about it. One guarantee though, brothers are brothers and they won't forget that for the rest of their lives.

Employee No. 3699 said...

My mom is one of ten children, and also has 2 stepsisters. The tradition of getting together for a Christmas party has been going on for 45 years. Because there are so many of us, we have the party at a banquet hall.

Though I only talk to some of my cousins throughout the year, I get to see most of them in December.

Do you think you could get your relatives together for a reunion?

secret agent mama said...

Sometimes it's better to nurture your direct family bonds (those of you, your spouse, and your children) than reaching out to others. Why do I say this? I don't know, maybe because I don't have very strong external family bonds? Maybe the guilt comes from wanting to expand but knowing that it might do more harm than good, to do so? I don't know. Maybe I'm just an idiot. LOL

Joyce-Anne said...

Family...you can't live with them and you can't live without them. Last Easter I actually had to cajole my brother-in-law and his wife to have dinner with us. Now we don't live but 2 or 3 miles from one another. It's just that he (my BIL) can't stand his mother. Personally, I don't care for my mother-in-law either but for the sake of my children I make sure we see her. And, you should know that before Easter, we hadn't seen my BIL's family for 7 holidays! I'm glad I finally put my foot down. I still think it was the right thing to do and certainly would do it again.

So, I guess I'm saying that maybe you should talk to D and see if the two of you could plan something for next summer. Then inform the rest of family so they could plans ahead while making their summer schedules.

BTW, I'm left handed too.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

"I have so many things I want them to know and understand before I die." You're not dying are you, Lou? Tell me you're not dying. Because it wouldn't be nice for me to just be getting to know you and for you to leave comments on my blog about Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres having her way with you if you're just going to kick the bucket.

LceeL said...

Late lunch and a minute or two to answer comments - so here goes....

jientje: So.. your left should angel is into the bad boy thing, is that it?

maggies mind: I see your mind is a lot like my mind in which case calling it a manbag could be seen as an error.

shadow: I KNEW there was something I liked about you special.

nicole: Yes, it's great when you travel.

jientje: Yes, people do 'evolve' - change - and not always for the better.

witchypoo: I fixed the link and Yes, I'm sure D and I will wind up talking about this. She reads this blog.

patsy: It's whatever you want to call it. I'm way too old to be worried about my sexuality.

michael: Yes, that could be seen as being naive. Just stay close to make sure your folks aren't being taken advantage of.

Mary L: Thank you, Mary. For not teasing.

moneythoughts: I know you're right, Fred. I just don't know why this is so on my mind, lately.

tash: Eat more berries!! While you can.

ayewonder: Mike that's comforting. That is the one thing I know I'm going to be able to leave behind me - for them. Each other.

employee: Yeah, we're going to have to talk about that, my cousin and I.

Secret Agent Mama: Mishi, the one thing in the world I can guarantee you you are NOT - is an idiot.

Joyce-Anne: Yes, it probably was the right thing to do - and talking to D is the right thing for me to do, too. Lefty.

LceeL said...

Holly: I'm fine. Just fine. It's just that sometimes I feel more mortal than others - and this has been one of those times.

Hyphen Mama said...

I agree about the guilt with extended family. My mom is one of 5 girls, meaning I've got cousins and 2nd cousins spread from WA to FL. I've seen none of them since I was 8. I've tried to get a reunion going, but do you know how hard it is to get 50 people in the same place at the same time? Yeah. It's tough.

I keep telling Mr Hyphen he needs a man bag. He's now started carrying a briefcase. I don't think that's the same because he doesn't carry his wallet and keys in it... but if that's what makes him feel better.

I like your new profile photo.

warriorwoman said...

The family agreed some years ago that I could still be part of it, that they would acknowledge that I belonged to it - if I stayed away from them.

It works well.

And Lou.......so, how big is it?

And you look good with a purse, do you have shoes to match?

LceeL said...

hyphen mama: You're the first one to notice - or to say anything, anyway, about the profile photo. Thank you. The reason I started carrying the 'manbag' (aside from the fact I was born with one) was because I drive so much and sitting on my wallet was KILLING my back. I put 68,000 miles on my last car in 25 months.

Warriorwoman: Is it, was it, or will it be? And, given that the bag is basic black leather, it goes with almost all my shoes. Which are also basic black leather. Except for my trainers, which are black fabric of some sort. With a white swoosh.

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

Is that a new painting in the slideshow? I love it. Gorgeous use of blues/greens.

And, about the post: I understand what you mean, because I'm there. I think family is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING yet I would have no problem never seeing my in-laws ever again. Hypocrite? You? If so, then I am, too.

Sandy C. said...

I hear you on the family. I'm terrible about upholding any relationships with anyone outside of our immediate family. And as AFF said, if I never saw my in-laws again, no biggy. I'm a total hypocrite.

You're left handed?!!?

LceeL said...

AFF: Nope. Same old painting that's been there all along. And no, you of all people, are no hypocrite.

Sandy C: Yes. Left handed but I bat righty. And NO, THAT IS NOT A SEXUAL REFERENCE!! Because you guys KNOW you went that way .. didn't you.

Bee said...

Please go to the following website - http://www.dayswithmyfather.com/ - a son's tribute to his aged father. The photographs are beautiful and haunting; the hand written notes, heart breaking. Altogether fantastic and somewhat/sort of/maybe a little in keeping with the one of the themes of this post. Regardless, it's worth a look, for sure.

LceeL said...

Bee: I've seen that site before and I was moved by what I saw. The love, the devotion is so obvious to see there. So is the pain. When I get to be a very old man, my sincerest hope is that I am not a burden to my sons and my wife. When I do die (Not yet, Holly, not yet - not for a looooooooong time yet) I want to go quick and preferably in my sleep.

OHmommy said...

My kids are younger and my purse is smaller. Teehee.

All joking aside. Your earlier paragraph about wishing your boys would listen... it hit home for me. I was just thinking about the same thing this morning. About lineage and family and the bond and how to have the kids better understand and appreciate it all.

LceeL said...

OHmommy: Since 1991 Grannie has been working on a Genealogy (sp?) of our family. It has brought home so much about where this family comes from. All sides. I want my sons to understand their connections to the people who came before them - I want them to know the names of all of those people who gave them life- because if any one of those names didn't exist, neither would they. And I want THEIR kids to know, too.

redchair said...

Hi Lou,
I can’t believe you’re a poor example to your boys on family bonding. You bond us as bloggers, for goodness sakes! And the fact that you think about your family in this way and worry about such things- shows how caring your are.

I had aunt who used to send out those generic Christmas letters every year. She’d talk about what each member of the family was doing. If someone moved- she’d put their phone and address on the end. I know a lot of people think those letters are old fashion and impersonal, but in our busy lives- as a family, we sure knew what each other was doing. I didn't realized how much I enjoyed her letters until she was gone.

Just something to think about, Mr. Writer Extraordinaire.

Vikki

Melissa said...

I think we all have issues with our families like that. It's so hard to come out of our day to day lives and bring others in. But it is important to try. I'll let you know when I succeed.

As for object in the picture being larger than they appear...well, I'll just leave it there. This is a family blog. :)

LceeL said...

Redchair: Thank you, Vikki. You give me more credit than I am due, but thank you, nonetheless. And yes, we often don't realize the value of the long time people and things in our lives until they are gone.

melissa: If you think this is a family blog ... well then, I guess it is. Today.

tiff said...

Lou, I'm a lefty.
Family is a strange lump of humanity, don't you think.

I'm sure you have taught your sons well.

Emily/Randomability said...

My extended family is rather large, with 12 Aunts/Uncles on my Dad's side alone! We grew up away from the Heights so i did not get a chance to know my younger cousins as well as some of the other's do.

despite everyone being all across the states, we do manage to keep in touch with a yahoo group. It's been good. Something to consider.

LceeL said...

tiff: There seems to be a surprising number of people who have responded here who are left handed. Go lefties!!!! And I've tried, Tiff. Just as have you. You are such an inspiration.

Emily: You know, I've been thinking in just exactly those terms. Maybe setting up a passworded, invitation only blog with all of the family as team members.

ConverseMomma said...

That first paragrah reminded me of the old Cat Stevens son, Father to Son. I know my own husband thinks about this a great deal. He is estranged from his own father, and is terrified of the same with his sons. But, he is open, loving, kind, and I know will be keep the strong father to son bond they have now. I think you set the example by who you are even more than what you say.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Hiya! Lefty too here.

Nice purse. You got a puffy shirt to go with it? heh. I jest.

I love your avatar, btw...I'm assuming it's you.

LceeL said...

ConverseMomma: I agree. Lead by example.

Amy@MBaM: Yes, lefty, that's me. My First Holy Communion picture, taken while standing alongside Grampa's 1952 Dodge.

Eve Grey said...

I say the same thing to my kids all the time, "Family First". I have two sisters and a brother and I love them soooo much. I'm the oldest and although I gave a couple of them a hard time growing up (on account of being bossy & such), I always have their back.

Elizabeth said...

1: You're such a great guy. Can you round up email addresses for the extended family and perhaps start a "family blog" or website to bring people together, if only virtually?

2: The man bag is so fetching.

Audubon Ron said...

I'm an orphan. No legacy to leave. No children. Essentially, I will never have happened. All I got is God.

Nancy said...

Not a manbag at all.
As Seinfeld would call it, a "European Carry All"
=)