Family Coming out of the Woodwork
So, my grandfather's estate has been settled. My mother flew to Puerto Rico to act on the behalves of my sister and myself. Now, this is my father's family we are dealing with. To be kind, there was never a warm relationship between my father's mother and my mother, which meant that no one else was allowed to like my mother either, or my grandmother would make sure their lives were miserable. To say she was controlling is an understatement. So, the relationship had always been strained. My mother did not trust my father's family and moved us away from them after my father died.
She got a very big surprise when she returned to PR. First of all, the island has changed. If you step outside of the heavily touristed areas, you've steped into the kind of poverty and drug gang violence that makes places like Mexico seem tame by comparison. There are entire neighborhoods where the police have "strongly urged" residents to move if it is at all possible. The district where the hall of records is has become one of the poorest and most dangerous ghettos on the island. When my mother asked the cab driver to take her to that area so she could get a replacement birth certificate for me, the cab driver asked why she would want to go to that district and told her it was no place "for a lady such as yourself."
Second, much of my father's family haave lost nearly everything with the economic collapse. She said she had never seen them look so human or vulnerable as they did the 2 days she was there settling our stake in my grandfather's estate.
Third, the entire assembled party was overwhelmed to have contact with my mother and wanted to mend fences and rebuild bridges, hoping that we could all be "a family" for the first time ever. My mother was tentative, but accepted them at face value. Phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged and trying to put together a family reunion next year was mentioned. My mother returned home, not expecting anything and hoping that my sister and I would not be disappointed.
We haven't been. Inside of 48 hours, the 11 other first cousins, my sister Larra and I started emailing each other and friending each other on facebook. Stories of ourselves, our wives and our children have gone all over and pictures have been sent and distributed all around. It has been interesting to learn how much of our personalities are like those of our cousins, and how many Acevedo family traits Larra and I have. Even more interesting is how much my children are like my cousins. It's definitely an argument for nature over nurture.
I'm enjoying getting to know my cousins again. Granted, it is difficult for me to read for any real length of time, but my sister has been reading the long emails out loud to me and there have been phone calls. There have been some questions I have had since I was a young child that have been answered, and some of the waysI felt like I didn't fit in were just traits I shared with the other side of my family.
This all goes hand in hand with one of the lessons that I learned when I had my first stroke - when it all comes down to it, cherish your family and put aside the petty differences. Your family is all you really have. I have been able to build a close relationship with my sister after 20 years, and built a much closer relationship with my mother. Now I am able to start doing the same with my father's side of the family.
There was something more I wanted to say about this whole topic, but I am typing as I sit in a local coffee shop and I was momentarily distracted. The thought is gone. Something about my snowglobe and something about old things being fixed, but exactly what is gone. Such is my short term memory now. Oh well.