Family took on another meaning entirely for me in the last year. I’m blessed to have a deep love of family. Do we all get along? Heavens no! But over the years I’ve come to understand that my family has a special kind of connection that you don’t find every day. When I say family, let me make sure you understand what I mean. There’s my immediate family (Husband, Mama, Daddy, Brother plus Sister-in-Love, nephew and soon to be niece). Then there is my extended family of in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Then there’s the outer ring of more cousins, greats, grands and the like. Then there are the folks who are “play” family… Yeah, it’s more than bloodlines to me. If I call you family, it means something special to me.
Well, in January 2015 something extraordinary happened. I woke up one morning with my brother and his family on the West Coast, my husband 10 hours away in Lubbock, Texas, and my parents in Indiana on the way to retiring in Atlanta, Georgia. Apart from one of my cousins and a small set of play siblings, I am the only member of my family remaining in Arkansas.
For someone who literally doesn’t feel right unless she talks to 3 members of her family a day (at minimum) you can probably imagine that I felt cut off from a very important part of my sanity meds. It’s not that I don’t have friends, but no one understands me (or accepts me) like my family for who I am in all states of my being.
There is some value in having alone time. You don’t have to answer to the beck and call of another person. You can do what you want when you want, right? Yeah, that’s really overrated let me tell ya.
As strong as my bond is to my family; however, as I grow older and members of my family go on to their Heavenly reward, I am realizing that I don’t KNOW many of my family members on a personal level like I would like to. Knowing in that way takes spending time with a person to get beyond the surface of things. This has been an increasing challenge as my family continues to grow and spread out over great distances. Not everyone is keen on the modern technologies so apart from the occasional get togethers and carefully placed phone calls, I’m not sure the knowing part is going to get much better, or if that is even a realistic aspiration to have in this day and age.
I do know that we have far more in common that we realize sometimes and that there’s a special love that binds us together that we carry with us each and every day. For that, I am truly grateful.
Now I want to focus on capturing family stories. I want to know what I can know that folks are okay talking about. I’m a storycatcher, it’s what I do. Plus, we’ve learned in recent years that not everyone is going to hold onto their memories as they age. I’m so glad I have some of the video and audio tapes that I captured of my grandparents from back in the day. I want my children and their children to be able to see these things and better understand where they come from.
So if you’re part of my family and I haven’t seen your face in a minute, remember that the road runs both ways, my phone number hasn’t changed in 10 years and a bunch of y’all know how to find me online so there it is. #BOOM
~Marta Gwyn Collier Youngblood
(yeah, that’s my entire name, don’t wear it out!)