2009 has been an extraordinarily trying year. It seems to me - from what is admittedly a subjective point of view - that Margaret and her family (Dad, Frank and Uncle Mike serving as the other spear tips) have endured more than their fair share. One hopes (at least speaking from the selfish perspective of this one) that 2010 is kinder to my wife and her family. I would say aloud that it appears to be impossible for it to be worse than this year but I prefer when my fate temptation impacts only me.
I think that what has kept Margaret and Joe and the rest of them afloat through all that they have encountered is one another. It is remarkable to watch as a quasi-outsider the closeness of the bond between them. It runs every way and all ways simultaneously. It is a bond of impenetrable strength and immeasurable depth.
I have always admired the nature of the relationships in Margaret's family for while it seems a bit difficult to believe if you have not spent twenty years observing it firsthand, it appears as if the familial chain contain no weak links. There are no fracture lines.
Candidly that is not the way it is in everyone's family. Mom is eighty years old. Among her closest friends for most of her life were her brother Jim and her sister-in-law Dot. In the almost thirty years since my father died, Mom did things she had never done while he was alive. She traveled all over the globe. And many of those trips she made accompanied by Jim and Dot - as well as my Aunt Clare (mom's youngest sister) and Aunt Marian (the widow of mom's brother John). Death claimed Aunt Dot several years ago and Uncle Jim died in May 2008. Yet at the time of each of their deaths, her relationship with each was as strong as had been when they were kids.
Fracture lines appear it seems in one generation even when they did not exist a generation earlier. Presumably they exist because regardless of the contribution of one parent to the stew that we the children are that contribution is counterbalanced by the contribution of the other parent. The issue is never the quality of each parent's contribution. Rather it is simply the degree to which one parent's contribution complements the other. Sometimes the fit is perfect. But not always.
In our generation - in my family - for years we have been separated. Living on opposite sides of the fracture lines as it were. There is no question that we have all been visible to one another on opposite sides of those lines all these years. Accessibility and visibility are not interchangeable concepts. Whether one leads to the other is something that remains to be seen.