08 March 2010

a glimpse of my family

A number of months ago, my aunt published on her blog several letters to her husband, who had recently passed away. In putting these online, she shared with us the joys and challenges of having been married to my uncle. It was pretty special to get a glimpse of her and my uncle in this way, and I was grateful to have been able to read those letters.

One of my favourite letters is her description of meeting my uncle's family - my dad's family, that is. My aunt came into the family shortly after my mom did (and according to my mom, their experiences were fairly similar). I think what I like best about the story is how my aunt writes it in a way that makes some fun of herself. She recognizes that at 20, she was naive and could easily look down on those who are different - and my dad's family was very different from hers! At the same time in her description she captures well some of the things I love about my family - hard-working, learning to make do with little, boisterous teasing, tenacity, earthy, practical, being willing to be different, and fun loving - all things they've tried to teach me to be, too :)

The following is her description of her first meeting with the family:

"The following weekend we arranged that I would take the early train to London and we would first of all attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies in L-ndon. Then we would travel to the farm and meet your family. That was a weird weekend for me. On the one hand I was thrilled to be arm in arm with you during the ceremonies, when romantically, it began to snow.

But when we arrived at your parents farm, I was shocked. I never seen a farm like that before (I had rarely been to a farm before), and it certainly did not fit my vision of a farm. You did not warn me about anything. It was not a really prosperous farm, and it showed. Your family, on the other hand, were real farm people, and that showed too. They laughed and teased their way through a huge sloppy meal, and there were so many little kids. Rough little kids. I had no idea they were having so much fun at my expense. This visit also changed my view of you a little. I was disappointed, because you seemed to be like them when we were there. Not at all like you were when away from them. You didn’t defend me or tell the kids to knock it off. You even spoke a type of pidgin English to your Dad, of which I only understood the work "tractor".But much, much later I realized that you behaved like that on purpose. You wanted to see if I would fit in or if I was truly snobbish (unknowingly) like my family.

That is also the first time I ever drank coffee. I had never been encouraged to drink coffee at home, it was always tea. When someone asked me if I would like a coffee, I timidly said, I’d rather have tea thanks, they laughed uproariously, and slapped a huge mug of coffee down in front of me. I learned to first tolerate coffee, then enjoy it, and now drink very little tea at all, only coffee! So I guess you can say I did learn to fit in!

I stayed overnight that Saturday night, and slept in a huge bed with two other girls. I laugh now when I remember that night. I woke up in a tangle of arms and legs, with your father shouting up the stairs for the boys to roll out and get to the barn. At breakfast they horrified me with farm and animal stories. When I got ready for church and put on my stylish little pillbox hat, they split their guts laughing. In embarrassment I put it away. I never wore it again. What an education in country ways that was.

Now I don’t mean to be unkind about your family. I learned over the years to understand and love them. Your parents worked hard and did the best they could, and I actually have a very good relationship with all your siblings and spouses. I’m glad now that they were the way they were. It shook me out of my narrow little world and made me see life on the other side of the fence. And that’s exactly what you hoped would happen. But you did not ease my way."

taken from: http://theasramblings.blogspot.com/2009_11_22_archive.html#5581625693333864708

1 comment:

T.B.H. said...

Glad you enjoyed the letters, Brenda!