I’m thinking about family this week: what it means and what it doesn’t, and how grateful I am for the kinship left.

The the rules were simple “in the day”. We had parents, grandparents, cousins and more cousins. There were second cousins, third cousins, first cousins once or twice removed and YES, a few relics (Lilly Flate, maybe..or Leah Lader) of questioned consanguinity. Regardless of lineage though—irrespective of disparate finances or intellect, we were a unit. Everyone—-those wanted or unwanted, liked or unliked…belonged.

From picnics at Forest Hills to picnics at Wiegand’s Lake, from Seders to Shivas to Mitzvahs: some didn’t speak, others wouldn’t listen—but as part of the same whole, we always fit under one umbrella…together. How tight was the fabric woven? Not once (as a kid) did I ever notice that some had no voice and others no respect. All I saw—all I felt— was family.

So did Hal, by the way. We still do.

A few years back H got hold of film from Cousin Barbie’s confirmation party. It was 40 years old. How happy was he converting it to DVD, distributing copies to interested parties!


It was important, too, not long ago, when Cousin Howard made Cleveland’s Softball Hall Of Fame. Hal and I sat ringside as our tuxedoed blood was inducted by yet another clansman, former all-world Shelly Hoffman. (Indeed, reminiscing that night, Shel reminded how pissed his Dad was at our father when the latter gave Shelly a baseball glove for his Bar Mitzvah. Those were the days, you see, of fountain pens).


The world is different than it was back then. Families split today; they merge, they blend; the kin leave town. Heck! My aunts lived streets apart; my kids’ aunts? States apart.

I miss the good old days, (as air-brushed as they may have been). I crave the community, the innate bond.

My brother teased me the other night. I’d been complaining about the latest tsuris with Aunt Helen, and he sensed, perhaps, that I enjoyed my monologue a bit too much.

“You two have a special relationship,” he opined. “You’re very close.”
“By default,” I suggested.
“I’m just saying,” my bro continued, “You talk to her alot. Some times I think you enjoy the fight.”
“Please,” I defended, “We’re all she has.”

He wasn’t wrong, you know. And he made me think. As difficult as that woman is she remains our father’s sister—our family. Who am I, with or without her nonsense—to push her outside the umbrella?

Family is either everything or it’s nothing.

I’m thinking about family this week: what it means and what it doesn’t, and how grateful I am for the kinship left.

One Response to “FAMILY MATTERS”

  1. Jackie says:

    You’re my family.

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