Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.~ David Ogden Stiers
Over the last few days, I’ve seen multiple stories in the media about families. A woman who has 15 kids now is demanding that someone, not her, take responsibility for them. A 5-year-old girl has been missing for two years and her family no longer mourns her. A young man was killed in a drive by shooting a year ago and his mother is still passing out flyers asking for anyone with information to come forward. A teenaged mother threw her newborn over a fence so her parents wouldn’t find out she had been pregnant. All this is swirling around my head, begging me to ask how did we as a community reach this crazy place?
I admit I was raised under rather traditional rules. My parents are immigrants (hence the Gaelic title of this entry) and raised us how they were raised. Even in the 70s, my childhood friends would comment on how weird we were. We ate dinner together almost every night. My parents were present at our activities. They were involved in our schools and communities. Discipline came swift and hard to violations of the house rules. My friends laughed at my curfews, since they had none. They laughed at the boundaries of my life, daring me to bike further from home in defiance of the rules. I remember believing that my mother was omniscient as I was always called out on those transgressions. Turns out she just knew someone in every part of my life who would call her and tell her I was misbehaving.
I look at all the “family” things that make the news and wonder how anyone could stop missing their child. How anyone could just give up. How anyone could abandon a child. The families that keep fighting are becoming less noticeable. The only place I saw news of Joe Bell being mowed over in Utah while on his walk against bullying was on social media. The family of a New York teen with Autism is raising money to offer a reward for the safe return of their son who wandered away from school almost two weeks ago, also on social media. A Florida family is trying to get the word out about concussions because their child died after a football collision, again on social media. Broadcast media is still going with “if it bleeds, it leads” and has no interest in sharing these stories.
I don’t think I will ever understand parents who have such callous disregard for their children. I hope my three children know that the village that raised them will welcome them back anytime. I’m pleased that they already seek to find the good in people and to work towards improving their communities. Because that’s what it’s about. Accepting responsibility, building community, strengthening relationships and knowing that your family has your back.
And just in case you missed it in previous posts, family is not defined by blood. Surely that is one of the first things most of us experience as children. But as we grow older, family becomes those we choose to allow into our lives. If each of us refused to leave others behind, I think humanity just might have a chance.