I consider myself to be rather analytical and I’ve always found it intriguing that some people maintain extremely close family ties throughout their lives. Personally, I have been somewhat emotionally distant from my extended family for as long as I can remember”?practically to the point of reclusiveness. My sisters and I keep in touch twice or thrice per year, my mother and me once per month, and my father and me once per week. I meet up with the more extended family relations on an ad hoc basis only, running into each other whenever chance provides the opportunity.
I live in a city of 75,000 people which contains at least a dozen of my aunts and uncles, and at least twice that many cousins; but I almost never interact with any of them. It’s not that there is any kind of enmity at all; to the contrary, I enjoy all of my family. That’s why I find my familial relations so interesting from a rational perspective. I see other people going to great lengths to maintain close ties with their families, traveling thousands of miles to “family reunions”, or going out of their way to get home for Christmas so that they can all be together for the holiday (it’s just another day to me). Sometimes I wonder if my family’s genetics contains a distance-maintenance gene:
I moved into the house that I presently live in six years ago. After I bought it I learned that one of my cousins lived directly across the street from me. In all that time he has been to my house once and I to his twice. However, we wave and smile to each other on the street all the time. Often I find myself in stores talking to people to whom I know that I am related (they make that obvious) but I cannot for the life of me place whose progeny they are or how we are related. I laugh and nod my head as we talk and leave the conversation wracking my brain as to who I just conversed with. Yesterday I went to my neighbors’ house to borrow a shovel. The couple were in their front yard talking to a man from whom they had just bought a car. I tried not to interrupt their business as I requested the tool but the man suddenly said to me: “Why do you look like my cousin Wayne?” I responded that: “My name is Wayne, but I’m not your cousin.” After a second I asked, “Who are you?” And he responded: “So-and-so’s son.” “Oh,” I said, “You are my cousin!” We chatted for a while and I asked him if he knew that our mutual cousin lived across the street from me. He didn’t.
So what, you might ask, is the point of this article? Well, I am truly interested if there are other families out there similar to mine. Those that like, and sometimes even love, their distant relatives but keep a respectful distance from each other”?leading parallel but separate lives. Sometimes I feel like we are sociological anomalies. Are we? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wayne E. Benedict is a Locomotive Engineer at BC Rail and President of the National, Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada (CAW) Local 110. He is working toward his Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations at Athabasca University.