My Family – A Tribute

29 12 2008

So I got busy with life and neglected the blog for a couple of weeks.  But now I’m back and the Christmas season has got me thinking, thinking about family.  I didn’t go home for Christmas this year, for a variety of reasons, most of them financial, and as much as I try to pretend that it doesn’t bother me, I found myself missing my family a lot on Christmas.  I got to talk to them on the phone and that was nice, but it’s not the same.  So, not being physically present with my immediate family, I thought about them a lot instead.  And one of the things that I thought about was how I wish that the friends and acquaintances I’ve made since I’ve been living on my own could really get the chance to know who my family is.

There are some things about my family, especially in recent years, that make them pretty interesting and make them stand out a little from your typical family.  Most of my readers know what I’m talking about but I’m not going to discuss it here so as not to defeat the purpose of this post.  There’s nothing wrong with being interesting and unique, but I worry that the atypical things are the first things that people learn about my family and those same things are what people are most likely to remember about them.  Because of that, I worry that people don’t get to know them at a deeper level and they’re left instead with a partial and inaccurate picture of who and what my family is.  A lot of it is my own fault.  When I tell people about my family I tell them about the eccentricities and oddities because it makes for more interesting conversation and it makes my family seem interesting and unique.  But the truth is, my family deserves to be thought of as more than just an anecdote.

A few years ago, I was talking with my dad and I mentioned a line from the film “Big Fish” that reflected my feelings at the time about recent events in the family.  The line is a son talking about his father and he said, “We’re like strangers who know each other very well.”  My dad really liked that line and has reused it several times in his own writing.  I still feel that that line echos my own feelings sometimes.  There are times when I look at my family and I wonder, “how did we all turn out so different?”  But the truth is, different or not, I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for my family and I wouldn’t change that.  I hope they see that, too.  I like to think that my siblings and I turned out pretty well, albeit in different ways.  Without them, I would not be who I am and I like who I am, it’s as simple as that.

I want people to know things about my family other than the anecdotes and drama that seem to have become typical in recent years.  So what I’m going to do is share a few of my favorite things about every member of my family, things that I think everybody should know about them.  

 

Most recent family picture I have

Most recent family picture I have

 

Ruth is my youngest sister.  She was always a grateful sister, several times she made me little certificates saying that I was a good brother and stuff like that.  I’ll never forget that.  She is one of the most creative people I know.  She’s an excellent artist.  Self-taught, too.  She’s also a writer.  She’s already written several novel-length pieces of fiction and feels confident she’ll be published before she’s 25.  Since she’s only 18 now I think she could be published long before that.  She is so passionate about what she does and her creativity impresses me.

Flora is the second youngest and of all the siblings I think she and I are the most alike.  She always thought I was cool and she’s told me how she has bragged about me to her friends sometimes.  How cool is that?  She loves my taste in music and that makes me feel cool, too.  She’s such a naturally hard worker, always getting involved in things that require a lot of hard work: theatre technician in high school, dog training school, cabinet-making school.  And she loves that stuff.  She’s a much better handyman than I and that makes me simultaneously proud of her and ashamed of myself. :)   She’s also so positive and mature.

Andrew is the closest in age to me and because of that we spent a lot of time engaged in the same pursuits together.  Most of the time it was video games.  I’ll never forget how we used to think up clever mnemonics to remember passwords and codes.  I’ve long since forgotten them, but I bet my brother can still remember most of them.  When we played co-op two player games our name in the high score spot was usually panda (for ‘P’ and ‘A’).  I’ll never forget that stuff.  Andrew was always really smart.  I tingle with excitement when I imagine what my brother is capable of accomplishing.  He has a great memory and he was always better with words than I, which, for a word-lover like me, was a little frustrating.  He got second place in a spelling bee once and I was so jealous.  He is very interested in Japanese culture and astronomy, among other things.  I find it appropriate that someone with dreams as grand as my brother’s would set their sights on space.  My brother can be very passionate about the things he does with his life and that impresses me a lot.

My mom is so good at making me know that she cares.  About everything.  There was never a moment in my life when I doubted that my mother cared about me.  She would always ask, even though I usually wouldn’t say much.  But she keeps asking anyway and that means the world to me.  I give my mom credit for teaching me to see the positive in every situation.  My mom has been through a lot over the course of her life and it never ceases to amaze me how strong she is and how positive and happy she remains in spite of everything else.  And even though I didn’t really like it growing up, I’m glad my mom was so health conscious and gave us such “healthy” food to eat. :)  Now my mom is a massage therapist and seems to be enjoying the life she is creating for herself.

My dad is an idealist and an optimist.  Always has been, at least as far as I can tell.  He was the kind of dad that got along very well with my friends, most of my friends eventually got to calling him by his first name.  The personality that made him such a hit with my friends also made him the kind of person that I learned I could talk to about anything no matter how controversial or personal.  I also always felt comfortable talking to mom about nearly anything, but there were some subjects that I knew my mom wouldn’t want to talk about, for those subjects, there was my dad.  My dad worked hard for my family and always tried to include my siblings and I in the work, even though we were usually very reluctant to help.  I’m so grateful for everything my dad did for us.  Nowadays my dad is a passionate activist who cares very deeply for the people in his life.

I love my parents for giving me so much, for trusting me as much as they do, and for building a foundation upon which I could grow and prosper.  I love my siblings for being such great teammates in the game of life thus far.  Let’s keep it up team!

So maybe all that was a little too sentimental and mushy, but I hope you all learned something about my family you didn’t know before.  As far as I’m concerned the kind of stuff I shared above is the stuff I think people should really know about my family.  I hope that this sort of stuff will be just as likely as the more dramatic characteristics to come up in conversation.  

On a broader note, I hope that we all can take a lesson from this, that people deserve to be remembered and talked about for more than just the story of the day.  I hope we all can learn to show people the respect that comes with really learning who they are and what they stand for.  I need to learn this lesson as much as anyone.

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6 responses

29 12 2008
Fred

Thanks for sharing your feelings about your family. It makes me feel a little closer to them.

29 12 2008
Aunt Lisa

I was sad for you too Peter when you couldn’t spend Christmas with your family. Then I was sad again when you had to work and couldn’t spend the entire day with us. You missed the traditions and best part – oh well, we’re just glad you were here for what the parts you could be. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to your family. I loved it and I know it will mean so much to your parents and siblings. As parents, these are those “gravy” moments when our kids reflect and share their thoughts, love and appreciation.

3 01 2009
flora

Peter thank you for this, you writing this means alot to me. It also got me thinking about you and everyone else in our family. I know I missed having you and andrew with mom, ruth, and I for christmas. I love you soooooo much!!!

5 01 2009
Dan Harker

Pete,

This was a great post! I only know your siblings through their names, and what they are doing in life. It was cool to hear a little bit deeper about them!
Dan.

26 01 2009
Melissa

So stumbling along facebook all the sudden I discover that My FAV. once-an-Edmonton-friend-now-a-far-and-away-American-style-friend has a blog. Oh… I love surprises like this. SO MUCH! But I think you tribute was pretty awesome… and the picture of your fam jam… I like that the boys all have similar features to your dad and the girls are kinda similar to your mom. Very cute.

5 02 2009
Karla

Hey Peter,
great post and I totally agree that you have a great family they have helped me much in my life as well.

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