It took me long enough to realize that I truly believe in family ties. No, they don’t just mean annual reunions, picnics, and barbecues. To me, family ties mean sincere love. That’s something I’ve neglected to give to many relatives, and now, sadly for some, it’s quite too late to express anything.
I woke up on Saturday morning to my dad’s trembling voice, “Your great-uncle has passed away.” The room was spinning uncontrollably but I managed to leap out of bed and slip into the kitchen. There I found my mother’s tearstained red face mouthing verses from the Qur’an.
“Verily we are from God and to Him we shall return,” I supplicated as I faced my mother.
“How did it happen?” I managed to croak. Apparently my great uncle had suffered from a severe heart attack while driving with his daughter and had been unable to find the appropriate doctor at the hospital in time.
“His death was written for him at that time. All we can do now is pray for him,” my mother sighed.
I stood up, avoiding any more contact with my mother’s eyes and walked to my bedroom, as I was afraid I would lose control and start bawling. I thought about all the times we went to Arkansas to visit him and his family. I remembered his deep booming voice, his friendly eyes, and his insistence to fill ourselves up at the dinner table. He constantly joked and laughed with us, but he never uttered a word to hurt anybody. His wife passed away three years ago because of breast cancer. They were both relatively young when they died.
At that moment I broke down and cried and cried. We hadn’t called him in such a long time. I cried out of shame and grief. It was too much to handle all at once. Is that all family is supposed to do for each other? Is it all just about attending their special events and eventually mourning their death? Phone calls don’t seem like much, but they really mean a lot. I always used to hide from my parents when they called my grandparents because I knew I would be handed the phone too.
“I don’t know what to say!” I would mutter desperately, clutching the phone in my hand. The reality was that the words didn’t matter. All they wanted to hear was my safe, healthy, slightly squeaky voice. Now as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that importance of those long distance calls.
Family is a word that causes some to shudder, some to run away, some to laugh, some to cry, but it just makes me grateful. I believe in family ties because they are unbreakable, flexible, and they are the sole reason I love waking up in the morning. This is for you, Great-Uncle, and every relative of mine that has opened my eyes to the truth. Wait. That includes just about everybody.
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