Brock and I had to work on a project last night.
It was a modified family tree, in which we had to show all of the connections of family members, marriages, children, and simple relationships. After we had laid out our whole sprawling family, we then had to analyze the relationships between various people — each couple, parent to child, grandparent to child, and so on.
The exercise was designed to show you a pattern between relationships, and how they can be passed on from generation to generation. We were asked to do this by our pastor for our marriage counseling sessions. Tonight, we go in and talk to her about the results, and what they can mean.
One of the things that she’s going to ask us is which of the relationships we wish to be most unlike. Many of the relationships were called ‘conflictual’ – meaning they experienced turmoil and discord. Others were categorized as ‘distant’ or ‘estranged’. Some were close, and you were allowed to combine any of the ideas. To be quite honest, I looked at my own family relationship map, and realized I would rather have a conflictual relationship than no relationship at all.
My father has four brothers, and his mother and father are both still alive. He hasn’t spoken to any member of his family in more than 5 years. I don’t know, really, the reason that he has cut off communication. I can’t say that any of his family members have attempted to contact him. But whenever I think of never hearing from someone in my family again, whenever I imagine someone perceiving a wrong so powerfully that they would completely remove me from their life… it breaks my heart a little.
I just found out my paternal grandmother has come out of remission. She has esophogeal cancer, and has been fighting it for the last six years. Her doctors have given her less than a year to live. I don’t have any disagreement, or dislike for her. I also don’t have a close relationship with her.
I don’t know if I should call her, email her, or write her a letter — or do nothing at all. I don’t like the idea that she is all alone. I don’t want her to die having never heard from my father again… and at the same time, it’s not my place. It’s his choice. I can’t help but think he might regret never saying anything to her after she’s gone. I would prefer conflictual over nothing at all.