SPACE-L ArchivesArchiver > SPACE > 2000-05 > 0959433153
Subject: [Space] Sunday Afternoon Rocking
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 09:12:33 EDT
Sunday Afternoon Rocking
"Redefining Family" (from the "Sunday Afternoon Rocking" series)
Those whom my messages reach seem to have one thing in common...the search
of family. Endless hours we pour over email, on lists, searching websites.
Endless hours we spend pouring over books, documents, haunting courthouses,
libraries, historical societies, cemeteries. We rejoice as we add to our
family files and we enjoy the cousins we meet descended from the same long
ago roof. There are not words to describe what this "bringing together of
family", this "documenting of a heritage" has meant to us.... We hold many
of the same reasons for the search in common, and then each of us has
uniquely personal reasons as well. Yes, family is important...but it has
long been in the back of my mind to define more fully "family". You see,
there are so many who are "family" but not in the way that we document in
our genealogy software, on our family group sheets, in our lineages... and
yet they are so very important, and they are so very truly "family". There
are those we DO document in our family trees, but which have no blood ties.
It comes to me that family is a bit of a "state of mind", and always has
Like you, I have many friends who are actually closer to me than some
blood relatives. In truth, they have earned the right to be "family",
and they have influenced and sacrificed for my family in many cases,
earning a spot in some manner of speaking in the family tradition.
Stories of them have been told and repeated, those
who have left this earth, and although there is nothing to connect them in a
family tree...they WERE family. Of those who surround me now, there are
more than a few I could ask at the drop of a hat for a favor and they would
willingly oblige. If I am sick they are there, if I am in poor spirits they
cheer...and they are family. My descendents may never realize it...but in a
way they will have been molded and carved into the people they will be by
the touch of the friends of a family of the past...just as I might have
been, just as you might have been.
There are aunts and uncles by marriage that we love as surely as we love the
"blood" aunt or uncle, that we treasure our memories of. There are in-laws
that have accepted us as surely as if we had been raised with them. Our
ancestors knew the same sort of relationships, and undoubtedly felt the
same. And though these folks may not be "blood", they too have placed an
indelible mark on our family lineage, our descendents, our legacy to follow.
I know of more than a few who were "adopted" into a family, but I do not
believe that makes them less family. Indeed my own husband bears a surname
not because he is actually descended of that family at all, but because a
many greats grandfather was accepted into it. No one has ever gone
searching for the long lost family that was biologically his ancestry, and I
am not sure they could find it if they did. But does it matter? This was
the family that raised a great grandfather, the family that accepted him,
gave him their surname and a given name from their ancestors, the family
that called him "son", and the family that claims his descendents. It is
the family that molded the descendents of which my husband is one, and the
ancestry that placed the mark of its experiences on their molding. Not
providing the biological "ingredients" that brought that long ago
grandfather in the world, they did something far more. They gave him all
they had to give, and made their legacy the legacy of his descendents. So it
is that this surname is the one my husband claims, and I have traced its
ancestry for him...it is as surely his ancestry as if a different biological
beginning had never occurred. This is family.
In truth, who among us can claim that the ancestors we have documented are
truly our own? We might take a lesson from the Native Americans there...for
honestly the only lines we can be absolutely assured of are the maternal
ones. That perhaps is not a popular fact to state, but it is a true one.
<smile> Family is who we claim.
I am a stepmother. My children have a stepmother. I know more than a few
"step grandparents". Though there be no blood ties, does this make less of
family? It certainly can, and does in many instances, but only if a person
chooses it to be so. Only if even one member of a relationship chooses to
keep those "not of blood" at bay. Family, I have always thought, has far
more to do with choice than it has to do with blood. And I have wondered...
does not choice make for more of a REAL family than blood? When a
relationship is based on more than the accidental placement of birth, when a
relationship comes because two or more open and willing hearts make a
choice, when they earn that privilege of closeness and love...is this not a
TRUE family? I think of the many many stepparents of the past. Unlike
today, where many of these families evolve because of divorce, in those days
it was more likely to happen because of the untimely death of a parent. My
ggg grandmother married a widower, herself a widow, children needing a
family..and this is a story undoubtedly repeated in your own family lines.
My great grandmother was a mere child herself when she married her husband,
to give his orphaned younger brothers and sisters a home...that story too,
is a common one of the past, and one many of you have found in your own
family lines. However it occurred, it takes a great deal of self sacrifice
and patience to mother or father children you did not choose to bring into
the world. It takes a great deal of maturity and leadership from adults for
children to accept mothering or fathering from an adult who did not bring
them into the world. But eventually...there is a choice for all involved.
To open a willing heart to family...and to redefine what the word "family"
And so I think, there is a place in our family files and archives for all we
consider "family". No matter how they touched the family lines, in some way
they left an indelible mark upon it, sacrificed for it, cheered it,
comforted it, cared for it, nurtured it. And if they assumed the role of
"family", so should they be claimed. Not just in honor of those gifts, but
also respecting that those gifts have actually in some way touched the
manner in which blood descendents looked at the world, grew, became.
Perhaps we should take time to include those pictures, those stories, those
names. For these people indeed, are family if ever one of us considered
just a thought,
(Note: Afternoon Rocking messages are meant to be passed on, meant to be
shared...simply share as written without alterations...and in entirety.
Sunday Afternoon Rocking columns are distributed weekly on the list Sunday
Rocking. This is not a "reply to" list, and normally only one message per
week will come across it, that being the column. To subscribe send email to
Timothy C. Hoskins
Free Leonard Peltier !!!!!!!!!!!
Future Lawnmower, Chief Window Washer, All Round Flunky, General Gopher,
STINKER-in-residence of "The Bluffs" Old Genealogists Home,
Best Kept Secret in America
here: Timothy's Tree</A>