New Realities of Motherhood

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Family Trees and Fences

Forgive me for feeling uninspired to post - doldrums from the same old have stifled me. I have not been able to see the proverbial forest through the trees. Routine is like a drain on the creative brain of late. But I had a remarkable moment of clarity with the foliage of my family tree one weekend in March.

I have enjoyed the social connections through Facebook since I joined years ago. Re-connections, reminiscing, reliving parts of the past I could not appreciate until I grew up. Connections with neighborhood children I played with, who are now grown up with children and careers - and who I see now as  grownups themselves.  Until our reconnection, the memory of them stalled at 8 year-olds playing flashlight tag and softball in the street and taking the bus to school.

But the one thing I did not expect to find on FB was connections to family.  The more distant family kind or as my brilliant second cousin calls them "once removed", etc. And then there are the not direct at all descendant kind, The relations through the marital lineage. My non- blood cousins. Or as I have lovingly now dubbed them 'cuz's. My direct family tree is very small, and while I have discovered new branches the past few years is it the unrelated new growth that has been surprising to find.

We all have them - family fences. Not picket fences, emotional ones. Who puts them up I am not sure, but they are the kind that keep you from finding your relatives. Feuds, misunderstandings, finances,  relocation, death... family fences.

For instance, I knew very little about my father's extended family until my daughter was born. In fact, I didn't know there even were extended family. To this day the reason for the fence in that family is unclear. But I was not about to let it stay up, especially considering the fact that no one could explain why it existed. So once I began connecting to my new extensions, my second cousin and I decided to ignore the fence's existence and began catching up. It was a nice meeting over 19 years ago. While sadly we have yet to enjoy another reunion, cyberspace has been providing a virtual union spot. Facebook more recently the venue and family tree growth catalyst.

Since my daughter is now attending a University known for their talent on the basketball court, March Madness has become a passion. The best part is it coincides with her Spring Break so she is home for most of the tournament. This year we spent the bulk of the games at a local grill which some of the University's alumni residing locally, call home base for viewing these sporting events. Its allows them to gather as if we they were indeed at a game.

Our first game invited us to 'share' the cheering space with another University who shares the grill as their school cheering space also. This required us to gather with our school's fans in the upper floor of the bar. So we asked to share a long table with another group of fans. Sports always bring people together and of course sharing cheers for a college team brings them together even faster.

While our team continued to advance in the Tournament, we continued to acknowledge our new friends in passing at each game. By the time we were down to the final four playoff, we looked forward to 'new friend' sightings! I even got to be friends with two of them on Facebook.

Katie had finally had to return to school,  so I elected not to go back for the championship game alone. Sadly our team lost and I was not able to see our new friends for the last time.

Taken the first day we met before we knew the connection.
A few weeks later I discovered a strange thing. My cousin had a female family connection who had a familiar town listed in her info page on Facebook. Her last name was strikingly similar to the last name of one of my March Madness friends - and so was the town he was from! I immediately contacted my cousin and my friend to find out how the women on both of their pages was connected, and more importantly, how was she related to my cousin. 

Turns out my new March Madness friend is a non-blood relative!  My cousin's mother and my friend's mother are sisters. So we are 'cuzs. Facebook even brings together family. Go figure!

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