At six years old, the death of a parent is almost unbearable. When that six year old is Daddy’s Little Girl, the death becomes not only unbearable but impossible to comprehend. My mother took my father’s death pretty hard. My little sister had her first birthday the month before and we were 1200 miles away from my maternal grandparents and the rest of the family. Without hesitation, my grandparents stepped in and provided a stable and loving home for my mother, my sister self and myself. Included in this new living arrangement was a half sister who was 10 years my senior. By no means were we a traditional family but no one could ever dispute whether or not we were functional.
Meals as simple as Sunday dinner were nothing less than a grand event at our household. Roast with rice and gravy, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, sweet potatoes and several cakes, chocolate and lemon, were the usual offerings. Don’t get me wrong, the food was always delicious but those gatherings were so much more than just a time for good food. On any given Sunday, at least four different households, representing four generations would come together under one roof to enjoy each other’s company and reminisce on times past. There would be jokes told that would elicit laughs any sitcom would be envious of. The newest baby of the bunch would be passed from aunt to aunt as they each declared that they could never, would never have another.
With four different households represented, there were probably three times as many personalities. There was the political analyst and the religious fanatic. There was the extrovert that just had to be included in every conversation. There was the introvert that only spoke when spoken to. There was the child that would not stop crying, the one that always got hurt, the leader and the follower. There was the opinionated one, the know-it-all, and the peacemaker. Somehow, everyone was able to tolerate and appreciate each other’s individuality and quirks. It was okay for me to speak for myself and disagree with the know-it-all without fear.
At the end of the evening, leftovers were wrapped up, the babies were all bundled and the cars were running. One by one, the households said their goodbyes and dispersed to their separate homes. Anticipating the next get together was almost as fun as being at the last.
Does the functional family still exist? Of course it does. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.