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Family, you can’t live without them, and sometimes you can’t live with them. The Norman Rockwell family portrait is just one vision of what most of us wishes our family looked like. However, the reality of life and our ever-growing global society often separates us from each other. It is not just the distance in miles; it also includes perceptual thinking. We no longer are living in small communities where we are governed by our family, following in the footsteps of dad, and maintaining the same traditions for decades. The baby boomer generation has been the catalyst in making some significant changes in the family, and some are for the good and others, well personally I am not sure.
I am the youngest of three children and growing up the distance in age as well as sexual orientation separated us. Being the female girl in a Jewish home, my mother had certain beliefs for me that did not pertain to my brothers. Although we were not a religious Jewish family there was still the underlying belief that the males (my brothers) were more important than I. Do not feel sorry for me because in no way was I abused or misused, but there were different expectations for each of us and even more so by birth order.
My older brother Gary was expected to be a shining example for his younger siblings, Joel and me, and when he chose to ruffle feathers, finding himself in the scheme of the things he took the brunt of may have felt like verbal abuse. Growing up in the 50s and 60s is nothing like it is growing up today. On the other hand my brother Joel, the middle child was encouraged to be the life of the party and shine his talent and brilliance where Gary and I may have lacked. As I look back now, this must have been a burden for him, as none of us are perfect. I, on the other hand, the baby and the girl was expected to be the princess (my Grandmother Jen labeled me that). When dressing up in pinafores and fancy girlie dresses I may have given the appearance of one, but I too was not the fairest in the land.
My brothers and I grew up as close as we could with the age gaps of 4 – 8 years. As young adults, we all lived in different states which meant that holiday time or Sunday dinners were not the traditional Rockwell Painting. When we did get together, we united as families do and occasionally had some rip-roaring conversations that certainly did not resemble the harmonious family. Yet, we created our own music despite some off-key tones, even my brother Joel couldn’t always engineer our voices melodically.
I love my brothers, and I cherish the times we have had, and hopefully, the future will provide us additional opportunities to break bread and celebrate like the one in the above painting. Today I celebrate my love and concern for my brother Joel. Despite the fact he says his eye surgery is fairly routine and only sounds disgusting, I pray for a full recovery. As families go, he had not shared this venture in life and only through a mutual friend did I learn of this event, happening as I write this out. Mother, father, brothers, and sisters too often assume that those of us who care need not be told about these minor (or major) situations. However, I believe when you are family by blood or adapted to be part of the circle, there is no need for secrets or protection. It is time to put any differences aside and come together even if it is not sitting at the family table together!