Family, The Defining of

Family – [fam-uh-lee, fam-lee] – Noun: All those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor. (as stated when searched on http://dictionary.reference.com/)

Wow! That is a rather broad way of looking at the meaning, isn’t it? How far back does one go to define who was the common progenitor? Do any of us really think of the definition of “family” that way? I know I don’t. I mean think about it, depending on the start of the line of that common progenitor, one would have to start on January 1st and tirelessly work non stop just to get all the family holiday cards out on time. Okay, so lets narrow this down some.

Family – Any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

That is getting closer to how people think of the word family right? We start drawing the common progenitor line at the person known as “Grandparent” or even “Great Grandparent”. It does cut that family holiday card list down a bit. However, there is part of the definition that does not work for me, “closely related by blood”. Maybe it is because some people I am closely related by blood, are not part of my life. Now before you start thinking, ooh boy, here we go with the “broken home syndrome thing”. Let me pause in saying, I do not subscribe to the notion of blaming our parents for things we do in our adult lives. There is a reason why, even in nature, there is a time when it is up to the individual to make decisions on their own or die.

Family to me is defined not by whom my common progenitor is or was. Family to me is not defined as someone with the title of “Grandparent” or even brother, uncle, aunt or cousin. I did and do have those people in my life that hold such titles and I think of them as family. Just as I did and do know people who too hold such titles and yet I don’t think of them as family.

For me, the defining of the word family is: any person that willingly and repeatedly decide to attempt to be part of another’s life, in a positive way, and allow for that other to willingly and repeatedly attempt to do the same. That to me is a better definition of family. The give and take of attempts from each of us in the hopes to make life fulfilling in a positive way.

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A Lesson Forgotten

While chatting with a very endearing person yesterday, the subject of circle of friends popped up. The comments were neither positive or negative in nature but rather just an observation on how they change. One could tell just by the subdued manner of the conversation, there was underlining sorrow being felt for some of those changes. After our conversation had ended, that sorrow stuck with me for a while leading me to think back on people who have come and gone out of my personal circle. I have found there to be a great emptiness left with the lost of some of those I once use to see almost daily. I realize the lose of people out of my life where to no fault but my own. I had personally through my own stubbornness and selfish acts, cause them to grow away from me.

“They” say, people come and go into our lives pending what lessons we still need to learn in our life. I personally and whole heartedly agree with that statement. I can not think of one single person I have not met, I have not learned from. Now I know what you’re thinking. Really? Every single person you have met? Come on now! But really, think about it. The lesson being learned does not have to be something so complex it is akin to learning a full and complete mathematical equation to the universe. The lesson can be as simple as learning how they smile.

I was reminded of one person whose name I never knew. A few years now have pasted since this chance encounter with nothing more but a smile and a single comment made. I had almost forgotten the event but now picture it as if it were only moments ago. You see, I was having an awful day, for reasons that now I can not remember. I do remember the feeling of dread, loneliness and being just utterly lost all together. I was at a local department store, finished with my checkout and walking towards the exit. Suddenly this woman smiles at me as says, “Smile, things really are not that bad!”. With out missing a step she simply continued walking past me. I paused only for a second then continued to the exit, horrified at the thought that I was so transparent. I thought about that simple statement and how by the time I had reach my car I had starting laughing at myself for allowing myself to get so low.

Recently and on top of the thoughts of long-lost friends, I had almost totally forgotten that lesson. A lesson from a perfect stranger with a lovely smile. “Things really are not that bad!” I want to thank that endearing person I was chatting with yesterday. Matt you helped me remember a lesson that I should have already known and should have never have forgotten. Thank you!