Family - Close And FarI am the oldest of originally seven children. We lost a sister two years ago, in her fifties, due to complications from her rheumatoid arthritis and pain management. About four years ago, she and I had a very heated argument that, in addition to issues regarding our parents move to an assisted living facility and some anger about the parent's appointing my sister next in line and myself as the two powers of attorney (we are both the oldest and only two of three who live in the same city with our parents), caused a serious estrangement over a couple of years. Our family of siblings had divided into two oppositional camps. Finally my sister with the health problems was able to articulate to me her issues, and we could reconcile and once get along again. She moved to our city to help with our parents, but died a few months later. I was glad that we were able to get a better understanding of each other before she died.
Looking back, we all realize that our birth family was one of what today is called a "dysfunctional family." My parents may both have suffered from mood disorders, as I do today. Yet we all have celebrated each other's accomplishments, even in spite of a perceived rivalry among many. My biggest problem is the historic lens through which my siblings see me, and each other, since due to most of them living at least four hundred miles away, we might only get together for a few hours a year, if that. Since my sister's death, and my father's death a short time afterward, we have all made strides to work towards understanding and appreciating our differences.
I have also been fortunate to have my own family, who, with some very special friends, provide a unique family based on mutual interests, care, trust and sharing. I missed both my maternal grandparents, one of whom lived to be about 92, and my paternal grandfather, who died when I was 12, as well as numerous aunts and uncles, as well as a few cousins and second cousins whom I knew as a child. They all lived at least 900 miles away.
Now, through the internet, and telephone, I am able to stay in touch with some.
About one hundred years ago, 95% of people in America and Canada lived within 25 miles of where they were born, and kin structures were more stable, allowing families to support one another and work towards mutual survival. Today it is much different.