Discussions around my memoir have brought to light another all-too-common issue of aging: the fracturing of families. It’s almost as if old tensions that were kept at bay during our working years burst forth again, unexpected and unwelcome, when we have less external structure to impose focus and fewer responsibilities to divert our attention.
Not all families fracture, of course. Some pull even closer, supporting each other, spreading a supportive network of loving arms around younger family members, stepping in to help out where needed, because we have the time and perhaps more resources than the young.
There is something to be said for relationships that go back to our earliest memories of childhood. Alas, everything about that gets magnified, for good or for ill.
I think a couple of things happen at this age, when a family of origin seems to fracture. One is that we know by now that change can only happen with willing partners. We put in less effort, while still keeping the door open a crack in the event that an unexpected miracle comes to fruition. The other is that we have family of choice, family of the heart, with whom we share love and common interests if not history and blood.
This is a hard one to talk about, because none of us likes to admit to having fractured families of origin. But I’d be curious, if you’d like to share. If you have siblings, aging parents, nieces and nephews, are you as close as you’d like to be? If so, how does that enrich your life? If not, how have you reached elsewhere for family of the heart?