My Uncle died the other day. Today was his funeral. He was a wonderful, sweet man. He was a lovely man. And being around the family the last few days has been nice, though I wish it was for a different reason. As is often the case when I get together with family, I also get a little melancholy. You see, I just don't fit in. And I really don't know why. And I really want to because I really want Bam-Bam to have a connection with a family bigger than just us. And it's not that anyone has ever been mean to me and told me that I don't fit in. It's a feeling. My brother has always felt the same way, too.
So, let me go back. My dad and his two older sisters were several years apart. In fact 10+ years between them, so they were a whole different generation. So the two oldest sisters had in common that they were around the same age and their families just naturally spent more time together because they were closer. Also, our parents were divorced when we were young so we didn't spend as much time with Dad's side as the other cousins because we were always going back and forth between parents, step-parents...a whole bunch of different places. So my brother, though the same age as 3 of his cousins, was kind of always the odd man out. His personality was also a little hard to swallow which also didn't help. And I, because I was one of the younger cousins, would hang out with my cousin Becky, who was my Dad's younger sister's kid. I know this is complicated so it's ok if you're not exactly with me. My Dad's younger sister moved to California and there went my playmate. It was terrible for me. At family gatherings after that, I would mostly hang out with my Dad. He was my best buddy anyway. I always enjoyed being with him. I adored him. He was the love of my life before my husband. Because he was divorced and my brother eventually moved away, we became a two-some at family gatherings. We were like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. Sure, I would talk to people, but it was always a tad awkward.
The funny thing is that the "real" me is anything but shy. I mean, if you knew me now, you would think it was silly that I would feel awkward. In regular company I am a social butterfly. My job is to train people, for God's sake. I get up in a room in front of 10's or 100's of people. I'm confident, poised, even perhaps eloquent (at times), not to mention that I can be a stitch. But with my family it's different.
My dad died almost 11 years ago and when he died, a piece of me died with him. How can I be the peas without the carrots? So now it can be painful for me to be around everyone. I always feel like something huge is missing. And because Dad and I were a pair, I never mingled well with everyone. So now that I have a husband and a child, we are all on the sidelines. Or at least it feels that way. The rest of the family all seem so close to each other and I don't know how to break into that. I also don't want to force them to have a relationship with me if they don't want it. And I think I am always just a little cautious about putting myself out there too much with any of them lest I be let down and feel rejected. My brother doesn't come around anymore because he's still pissed about some stuff that went down with my grandma's will years ago when she died. While I supported him for a while, and still support his opinion and respect that he wants to keep his distance, I just couldn't stay away from this family that I love over something like money. It's not worth it. So, you see, I am still the odd man out.
I guess I got to thinking because of my Uncle's funeral today. He was such a great guy. Despite my own personal shortcomings or need to keep everyone at arms length, he never treated me any differently than anyone else. Did we have long conversations? No. In fact, it embarrasses me to say that I didn't even know what he did for a living until yesterday. But he always welcomed me. He always had a scratchy, bearded kiss for me. He was always sweet and welcoming and charming. And he was a beautiful person that, after hearing lots of stuff today at his funeral that I wasn't aware of, I sure wish I'd known him a whole lot better. I am ashamed that I didn't. We would have had a lot to talk about. We could have had some really great talks. But now we never can.
I want to know the other family better. I just don't know if it's too late. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. I want another chance. And I don't want Bam-Bam to be on the sidelines. I want him to enjoy his family. And to know them. But how?