On extended family

I come from a very large and complex family. Both of my parents are twice divorced, each with children from their marriages. I am the only child of their marriage to each other. Basically, it is a bunch of step-siblings and half-siblings and confusion. While, in total, I have 6 siblings, most days I am an only child. For one reason or another I do not have much contact with my siblings. Also, for reasons that are very real to me I have not spoken to or seen my dad in nearly 4 years.

A few months ago I got a message from my Aunt (on my Dad’s side) to call her. It isn’t often that a family member from that side reaches out to talk to me. I picked up the phone and we chatted. The real reason for the call was to tell me that one of my uncles has lung cancer. Funny thing about cancer… every single time it gives you the ol’ bitch slap of a reality check. My aunt and I got to talking about my dad and basically she told me I needed to be the bigger person and pick up the phone. Trouble was, I didn’t know where my dad was or what his phone number was.

A few weeks later my phone rang. It was my dad. It has been at least 5 or 6 years since my father had picked up the phone to call me. No Happy Birthday. No Merry Christmas. It was truly shocking. What’s more, he apologized.

Since then, my dad has called 2 more times. Once to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner and another to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. With that phone call he said he would like it if our family got together for dinner or such. I would like that too.

I made it happen.

In a round about way (using the hated social media and a telephone) I arranged for my dad, step-mom, sister, littlest brother, little brother and his girlfriend to come to our house for dinner last night. It was the first time all of these people have been in the same house, at the same table, at the same time. It was just us. There was no crazy aunt (different aunt) heckling us. No one was drunk. We sat at a table and ate off of real plates. After dinner, we played a game… like family. We laughed. We smiled. We had a great time.

It was as if we were a real family.

It restored my hope that I could have a relationship with people I had nearly given up on. My dad has been sober for over a year. This is huge. I learned he and my sister have a great relationship. I learned my step-mom works very hard to provide for her family (she always has). I learned my littlest brother isn’t as much of a screw up as I thought. I learned that my little brother has turned into a fine young man and his girlfriend is a true delight.

At the end of the night my son was begging his uncles not to go. He thought these two new guys were the bees knees. That makes me happy.

It was a giant leap for us. I only hope we can continue leaping forward.

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