Family Ties

Lotus, Adelaide Botanical Gardens, 2004

The lotus symbolises a great sense of peace for me, a sort of "coming together" of the universe. I have experienced a lot of that in my life, and a lot of it lately. Yesterday, I met up with my Uncle Steve for lunch. We went to a french restaurant close to my work. It was wonderful! I have always loved Uncle Steve. He has always been kind, and was the only person aside from my mom, who did not criticize me for hanging out with homeless kids in downtown Portland when I was 14. Instead, he sat down and asked me why I was doing it, and asked me about what they were really using all that "spare change" for. That conversation 12 years ago was a light in a time of darkness for me.

My father's family has never been close...well, not during my lifetime. There are three brothers, and each has their own life, and multiple children. There are First Generation kids (the oldest), and Second Generation (my brother, myself, and step-siblings) kids. The three brothers had their own points of view, their own hang ups, and levels of emotion. I remember writing letters to my Uncle Steve and maybe my other uncle during my first year in Australia, expressing how I wish our family could be closer and that I wished them well. I never received a response, but in this day and age of email, who really expects hand written responses?

When my father died, Uncle Steve was a beacon....he has worked with terminally ill people for most of his career, and has a good amount of experience in dealing with death. I myself have lost a great number of people in my life, so grievance is no stranger. But when it's your parent, it's quite different. I cannot remember his words exactly, but what I do recall is that they were calming and brought a lot of peace at that time.

There have been a lot of issues since my father's passing, with division of property, money, etc. A lot of those issues have caused contention through the family (something I find really sad), so for a couple years, I just kind of stayed out of it. But now, those things are past, and I am able to pick up where we left off and hopefully move forward, and get to know this part of my family who I have always loved and looked up to.

One thing we spoke of yesterday was forgiveness. My uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer just over a year ago. There are people in the family that know that, and still hold on to their anger, grudges, whatever you call it. I just don't get that. One thing that my father's death taught me was to take the time that we have and make the most of it; that the little things don't matter, and most things that seem big are actually really little.

(Another funny thing in all of this, is that as I was relaying all of this to my brother in law, I mentioned that my cousin is treating my uncle with acupuncture. It turns out that my cousin taught some of his classes during his time in massage school! I love the way the world works with connections like these.)

What I see in my uncle is a compassionate, emotive person who is kind and loves strongly. Unlike his brothers, he is not afraid to show his emotions. What I see in him, is a lot of me. Love for the environment, creatures big and small, history, and family. I have always been a black sheep, but I have also always embraced it.

Baaaaaaaah. :)



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