The overextended extened family
Added: Fri. Nov 23, 2012 3:25am
Posted in: Family
I had a reading of my book, Late Night Musings,
and a signing at a local adult community (adult as in age, not sexual
inclinations). It took place at their weekly coffee and bagel get-together.
There were about thirty people, ages fifty and above, in attendance - more for
the bagels than to hear me I think.
Anyway, I briefly explained how the book came to be then read about five of my
musings from the book. At the end of each one, I encouraged those attending to
offer their own experiences and observations on the musings’ subject matter. I
heard some very interesting and poignant stories.
When the reading and book signing was over, an 80 year old gentleman approached
me to comment on one of my musings that had to do with my extended family where
I wrote how much I missed what I had as a child. He said he too had a similar
experience although he and his wife lived in Brooklyn all their lives. They
grew up only a few blocks apart so they certainly experienced the comforting
feeling and security of living among their extended family.
He then got to the reason he spoke to me. He lamented that the concept of an
extended family living in close proximity to each other seemed to be over. He
cited his own family as a good example. He had a son and a daughter, both
married but neither living anywhere near the rest of the family. That is
equally true for the younger generations of other extended families. We have
become a mobile society and our children and grandchildren seem to move to
wherever their work takes them. Often that means several moves that could be
hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Although I am an only child, my cousins and friends that I grew up with have
left our local town for the most part. To the extent I was part of that
extended family I am not now since I live in Florida. The same could be said
for the gentleman who spoke to me. In my wife's family, two of her six siblings
live far from the remainder of the family. One lives in Virginia and the other
in California. They each have two children who only see their aunts, uncles and
cousins once in a great while. Then again talking about being mobile, my wife's
family is from Malone, New York but live in Florida. Most children today don't
get to experience living near their extended families.
You can find many things to blame for the problems we face in society today.
Somehow I think the need to find work or rise on the corporate ladder has much
to do with it. For many seniors (read parents and grandparents) retiring in
more southern states can be blamed. Into that mix you can toss in divorce
wherein the husband and wife move away from each other. Whatever the cause, the
ones who pay for all this are the children. They never get to experience the
joy, comfort and security of being part of an extended family. What a shame.
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