The word “Family” means different things, to different people.
My parents emigrated to Canada in 1956, from Scotland. They didn’t know anyone here, but my Uncle John in Liverpool had traveled the world, working on ships, and his endorsement of the beautiful city on the Pacific, tipped the scales for Vancouver over Montreal. Dad thought he could find a job in broadcast radio in Vancouver… so he and my mum packed up their lives into a couple of steamer trunks, and with two young daughters in tow, set sail for Canada, leaving all relatives behind.
A few years, a few houses and a few different jobs later, my Parents had me.
To me, when I was a little kid, the word Family meant my parents, and my sisters.
My parents made many friendships in their newly-adopted country, and growing up, we called most of these people “Aunt” or “Uncle”. As I grew a bit older, I learned that these people weren’t actually related to us, but were Aunts and Uncles “in name only”. I also learned that there were OTHER people I talked to on the phone on Christmas Day and sometimes heard, on exchanged reel to reel tapes, who I was related to. They were the ‘Overseas Relatives’.
As a teenager, my Mum and I went to meet the ‘Overseas Relatives’, and spent three weeks meeting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins… all over Scotland and England. Being a typical teenager, I wore the unfortunate cloak of being self-absorbed, while lacking in both self-confidence and self-assuredness. Quiet and shy would be an understatement… so I busied myself behind the lens of a camera, taking pictures. After that trip, I was able to match faces and personalities to the Overseas Relatives. During my teens, there were also a few trips by various Overseas Relatives to Canada.
Later, when I got married, my Family more than doubled when I was embraced by my wife’s family. Through the following years, our Family also grew to include four lovely nieces.
Then the growth stopped… My Parents both passed away… and Lorie’s long list of Aunts and Uncles started dwindling. At the same time, the Overseas Relatives were diminishing in numbers, as my Dad’s two siblings and my Mum’s four siblings slowly succumbed to age and diseases. Until all were gone, save my Mum’s brother John.
Uncle John turned 80, last April. He and his wife, Aunt Patricia had been very kind when I went to Liverpool as a teen. It had been Uncle John who, when I went with my Mum to see my Grandmother, Sybil, for the one and only visit, after 15 minutes, took me for ice cream, as it was apparent (even to my teenage self) that Sybil was more interested in the Wimbledon Tennis results on her TV, than in talking to me, as she had placed a wager on the results.
After Uncle John’s recent birthday, John and Patricia’s son and daughter-in-law – David and Louise – started making arrangements for a family trip. So, this is how six of the Buchanan clan: Uncle John, Aunt Patricia, David, Louise, and grand kids Rebecca and Luke, came to be in Vancouver, for a visit.
From the first greeting at the airport, there was an immediate comfort, warmth and ease talking with all of them… and lots of laughter amid the “getting to know” everyone. I have always known that the Buchanan men have a distinct “look”… deep-set eyes and black hair that turns gray early… and I can now “see” myself in Uncle John, David and Luke, and them in me.
It had been 31 years since the last time Uncle John, Aunt Patricia and David had been been to Vancouver… and now Luke is the age David had been, and David was the age John had been on their last visit. Someone saw a photo of their last trip, and said each could pass for the generation that followed. I am also older than the last time they visited, by 31 years… and I’m sure, no wiser.
But I know that these people stepped off the plane as Overseas Relatives, and are leaving today as Family.
Family is a Relative thing, and today, some of my Family are leaving town.
I wish them a safe journey, and look forward to seeing them again… hopefully soon !!!
So, let’s get it RIGHT out of the way… I have Gray hair.
Genetically, my physical appearance comes from the Buchanan Clan. I come from a long line of short people, with dark deepset eyes, and black-brown hair, that starts to go gray, then white, in our early 20’s.
I’ve put it out there, and I embrace it… It’s my history… It’s who I am, and the road map that makes up my Genetic Being.
My Genetic Being just got back from a vacation in Las Vegas, where my wife and I had a great time… but we happened to be there at the same time as a large contingent of convention-goers.
The Convention, as I found out later, was the AARP.
The AARP, is the American Association of Retired People.
I believe in Random Acts of Kindness, and helping out where I can… and there were numerous opportunities on our trip, to help folks by explaining touch screens on slot machines, I helped a lady with a bank machine that she wasn’t able to understand, I took a bunch of group photos. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but my parents raised me to jump to help when I see someone who could use assistance. I want, nor expect kudos… It’s just the right thing to do.
My wife and I were, however, taken aback, when a stranger, OLDER THAN US, on an elevator ride, asked “Are you here with the AARP Conference ?” We said “No”, and at that point, arrived at his floor. We wished him well with his stay, and after the doors closed… looked at each other.
My wife is a wonderful caring, loving lady, and I am her only child… a 47 year old, juvenile delinquent who, on a regular basis, embarrases his nieces, and takes friends outside their comfort zones.
I am far from mature, and waaaay far from retired.
Still smarting from that encounter, I returned home a few days later… and as is my custom on Twitter, I sent out a few #FollowFriday Tweets. One of them, was a 30 Year Old whose comments I found amusing. She sent me back a “Thank you, Sir” tweet. So, I, being an escapee from Juvenile Hall, of course replied… “You’re welcome, Ma’am”
I have a healthy belief that we should respect our Elders, and have reverence for the Aged.
I also believe that, while I am (apparently) middle aged, I have done nothing to deserve reverence from folks younger, nor should I be receiving undue respect from folks who are older than I am !!!
I am not yet setting off airport Metal Detectors with my Iron Supplements… nor am I using furniture or bedding with motors to “help me” get comfortable and increase circulation. I do not own a scooter. I do not seek to eat dinner in the middle of the afternoon. I have never asked “those darn kids” to turn down their music… (although my wife has often asked me “What the %$#% are you listening to ?!?”)
I feel that my actions and my attitude reflect my younger self… by which I mean no disrespect to our older citizens… I just ain’t ONE OF THEM !!!
I guess my problem is the opposite of what Rodney Dangerfield (young kids say “who ?”) used to say…
I get TOO MUCH respect !!!