Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family? Not Easy To Define At Times.....

I hope the title of this post makes you think, as I did, about what can be defined as family.  I know how Webster defines it - we all do.  Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids, 1.67 pets, right?  Well, yes...and no.  I've had to think about it a lot lately, especially in light of last week's events.    You see, a good friend lost their child in a car accident.  The good friend is actually someone I work with...and for.  I thought about how I felt when we got the news.  I thought, too, how we felt when we discussed it among our team at work.  Our hearts ached and no one could imagine what this was like.  We felt...and feel...helpless.  There is absolutely nothing you can do at a time like that and we all know it.  I realize this is not a unique situation.  We've all been there, at one time or another, when these types of situations arise.  It never gets any easier.  At a time like this, though, it was easy to become a bit reflective and think more deeply about how we felt about the individuals that we work with.  Several of us have said, over the years, that this is 'family'.  The group I work with is relatively small and we've even vacationed once with our families on an awards trip.  We speak often on the phone, yet see each other only two to three times a year.  Should that matter?  I have relatives that I see even less, actually, and I am closer to some of them than the others.  This is why I had to ask - what constitutes a 'family?  Is it only mom, dad, and the other 1.5 siblings, or does it go deeper than that?  Is it more a feeling than being biologically-related?  Asking this question takes me back to my Psychology 101 course and the question posed there, "Which is more important - Nature or Nurture?"

I think about how I would do anything for the people I work with - they're family.  Then, when pondering the question further, I ask about the close friends we all have.  You know, the "2:00 a.m." friends.  The ones that, when it's 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, can be called if you have an emergency and they will drag themselves out of bed to help not only you, but your relatives.  They ask no questions.  These people, in my opinion, are family.  These are the people that, when you are going through a family crisis, will step up and help without being asked.  They just do it.  They offer.  They are there with the proverbial shoulder, as well as a listening ear.  They're family.  When you are faced with a dire, "I need $2,000.00 right now with no questions asked," they ask where to deposit the check.  When you need to have someone picked up or something delivered, they are there, asking nothing in return, to help.

Why do I even write about this?  Why is this important enough to make me spend time on a subject that isn't as controversial as a head scarf and Muslims at an amusement park?  Because they need to know.  They need to know they are appreciated and their friendship is not taken for granted.  They need to know they are, without the benefit of sharing genes, family.  In a time when the next generation thinks they know the importance of friends and family, I cannot help but think it is only superficial.  We were, and always will be, there for each other.  Yes, I've been forced to think more about this during the week...and I am grateful.  I realize that, though I am a big advocate of (and have said it here) "living like you're dying," and "making each day count," part of that is letting the people you care about know that you do.  Let them know they are more important than the family members that could care less whether they ever see you again or not.  In a time when some parents pit their own children against the other parent, these are the people that need to know they matter to you.  In a time when kids can treat adults and their elders so coldly and callously, we need to be a better example.  We need to show them that you need to show appreciation for the people in your life that matter.  These friends, co-workers, blood relatives are family.  Consequently, when needed, we will provide that shining example by doing what we've always done - we will continue to be the best 'family' we can be.  I hope everyone has a safe, happy Labor Day holiday. Just for the heck of it, pick up the phone and make two calls this weekend.  Just let those family members that aren't related know they're appreciated.  Thanks - you'll feel better for doing it, I hope.

Until next time......

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