As I have been writing all of these 40 for 40 posts I have been aware that my wife has been slightly unnerved at what I might say. The post on my grandparents, and Piotr from Poland probably perturbed her slightly.
Certainly she has known me to put my foot in my mouth more than once. Things don't often come out of my mouth as I intended them, nor are they always interpreted with the meaning I wished to convey. My ability to convery sincerity in person leave a lot ot be desired. I get a little shy and it comes across as if I am unsure and have something to hide.
I think my fascination and appreciation for the works of JRR Tolkien is a little different than the typical Tolkien fan.
Admittedly my love of Tolkien side steps his scholarship and ignores his love of languages. But I am not a scholar of medieval literature, a professor of Anglo-Saxon, nor a philologist. And at this point I am not really a Christian much less a Catholic. These are the lenses, the contexts in which Tolkien’s work is typically studied and critiqued.
Long story short is the themes of this post.
My 2 sons are all I ever talk about with my wife. All I ever talk about with family. All I ever talk about with coworkers at work, that isn’t work related. So why drone on about them now, when I can treat them like the celebrity posts in here and just post a bunch of pics and clips? So....
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood were Saturday nights when my family would order Pizza Hut Pizza, because my dad liked a pan pizza supreme (yuck!) and we would watch Star Trek the Next Generation together as a family. Geordi Laforge was always my favorite. He was the engineer who usually figured out how to use science to do everything that had to be done each episode to save the Galaxy!
I am the oldest of 4 children. I have a brother Brian and 2 sisters, Stephanie and Jaclyn.
We grew up together in 2 bedrooms. The boys room in blue, and the girls room in pink. As I said in my parents post, we had perfect balance and symmetry as a family. Well not quite symmetry. It went boy, boy, girl, girl, not girl, boy, boy, girl (like on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) but you get the idea.
I am about 3 and a half years older than my brother which I think is just about the worst gap you can have. We were never really in the same phase of life growing up, but we were close enough that we always were expected to play together. And then Brian and Stephanie were about 2 and a half years apart, which is closer to what psychology says is ideal for development between too stage-separate and too competitively close. Then my baby sister Jaly was again about 4 years younger that Stephanie which was just bad because there is clearly an age and maturity difference great enough to cause major problems but it is not significant enough of a gap that the older sibling can be viewed as a parentified authority.
But we all survived and have remained on good terms. At this point in time we are all living in the same town again for the first time since I was in high school. As a guy who hasn’t made a whole lot of new friends as an adult, and has lost touch with most of my friends from childhood, I am very blessed to have had 3 siblings that have always been there for me.
So I am going to break them down briefly one by one. Starting with my sister Stephanie, because as a middle child she deserves Top billing every once in a while.
I had Will Smith in the original aborted 30 for 30. At the time I said I was referring more to the character he played in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air tv show more-so than Willard Smith the actor (yeah that's right Willard is his real name). That all holds up. Everything I said about making every personal interaction with others a free performance is a lesson I wish I paid more attention to today. It's very "carpe diem," and "you never know how much time you have with the ones you love. " Both are sentiments that absolutely saturate the lead up to a 40th Birthday.
Thus far in the countdown it has been pretty straight forward to reminisce, recall fond memories, tell some less than flattering stories about people I haven't seen in 20 years , express some regret that ultimately dissipates "in the grand scheme of things," and let my inferiority complex run rampant as I state the qualities of individuals I aspire to, but will never equal.
That formula doesn't strike the right tone for people with whom I have regular contact and share DNA. And at this point I am down to my nuclear family. Begrudging admiration for a no-nonsense teacher or a tough-as-nails coach seems appropriate. It is not the sentiment I want to engender towards my family. Gratitude is.
Aging and birthdays walk hand in hand with reflection, and reflection can spur regret. But that isn't really the sentiment I want to convey either. Also as the day approaches, I am counting the days and feeling older. That makes for a more somber attitude than the glory day reminiscing earlier in the countdown when my birthday was still months away.
When it comes to my family, I have few if any regrets. I have no complaints. I feel blessed beyond measure. But when I do sit back and look at my family, I do have this strong feeling of just "wishing things were different." I find myself raging against reality as I try to write this. The aspect of my life that I cherish most is my family, and that means it's also the place I have had the highest hopes and expectations. This birthday, as all birthdays ultimately do, forces me to accept life for what it is, not what I want it to be. And nowhere is that more apparent than with my dad.
Of course the entire premise of Dr Fraser Crane is that he is a pompous, self-important, quasi narcissist that actively wants to be highbrow, out of touch with the common man, and yet, it's the common man either in the form of his friends at Cheers, or his callers and patients and family in Seattle that are his salvation. But I tend to turn all that on it's head, and just aspire to be a loveable snob. As if such a thing exists.
Both of my parents came from families of 6 kids each. So that right there says quite a bit about my grandparents. Corralling 6 kids is a challenge in any era ever. The fact that they were able to raise such large families devoid of instances of drugs, crime, or trauma is a credit to them and a blessing for me and all of my fellow grandchildren.
I come from a fairly large extended family. And obviously all my family members are great influences. So to cram them all in I will break it down generational-ly.
Today's post is about all my cousins.