This I Believe

Kate - Northville, Michigan
Entered on August 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love, question

Many people refer to the adage “Blood is thicker than water,” when referring to their families. I, however, am starting to believe that sometimes blood isn’t so thick.

Growing up, I lived with my parents and my brother with both sets of grandparents living nearby. My dad’s brother and his family moved to Florida when I was very young, and I have only spent time with them recently dividing items after funerals. My mother’s sister and her husband moved to Oregon to raise their children, who are both now graduated from college and established.

When my paternal grandparents were very young, both of their parents died. My grandma was raised by neighbors, and spent time in high school living with a lady in town so she could attend high school. My grandfather was raised by friends of his late parents, and their children called him their brother.

I don’t have much a family tree grown through blood beyond my grandparents on either side; it’s more of a twig. When my cousins from Oregon were growing up, my grandparents would pay for their flights to visit in Michigan, and pay for any expenses throughout their stay. My other grandmother always offered to fly in my Florida grown cousin to visit, but he and his parents usually refused. The visits of all cousins tapered off as they grew older, and I never understood how my family could let that happen.

I believe that your grandparents hold the key to much of what is inside of you. I know that I get my temper from my grandfather and my forgetfulness from my grandmother. My love for scrap booking and picture taking began with my grandpa. But what about my cousins? Where do their traits and habits come from? How will they ever know?

My dad’s best friends have spent more holidays with our family, and had more trips to the hospital to see my grandparents than my uncle ever did. My close friends helped to clean my grandma’s house when my aunt never came. My grandpa’s best friend was sitting in his bedroom when he passed away, while my uncle was still in Florida. My boyfriend sat with me at my grandmother’s bedside more times than my cousin ever had. But the most disappointing thing is that these distant relatives have asked my grandparents for more money than I will ever understand.

I don’t believe in counting on someone’s death to make my fortune, like my aunt and cousins do. I do believe in spending time with my grandmother and looking at old photographs as often as I can. I believe in asking her what her life was like, and telling her how much I appreciate her since she is the only grandparent I have left. I believe it’s okay to be disappointed that one cousin has moved to Chicago, and never come to visit my grandmother, yet has asked her for money more than once.

I believe in helping my family because I love them and want to do whatever I can for them, not because I expect something in return. I believe that family is there for memories, and understanding yourself, not for monetary gain.

I believe that sometimes blood isn’t so thick.