Fambly

fambly
"We think of ourselves as something really quite special, …"

My birth family seemed obsessed with visiting each other. We never once went on a vacation that wasn't primarily focused upon visiting family. We'd arrive and the Brownies would come out and the photographing commenced, lining up the cousins in stair step order, the sisters in mirror proximity, the in-laws as if they were genuine brothers. We also rarely stayed in motels, for there was always some family we could drop in on for at least one night when we were in transit. I suspect that we sometimes came as somewhat of a shock when, near sundown, we'd happen to be near Chico and call ahead to my mom's uncle to announce that the seven of us would be there around suppertime, but we were never once turned away, because we were Fambly.

This was my birth family's experience.
My brother-in-law recently learned that he has a full sister nobody had previously told him about. The story's a familiar one of unexpected pregnancy and, I suppose, shame, but nobody had spilled any beans over more than a half century until a half sibling stumbled upon the real story. Sixty-some years of serial omissions resulted, ultimately, in the truth coming out. This story ends better than it started, though bitterness lingers. Their reunion, which was really a first face-to-face, proved delightful because, you know, they're Fambly.

I once chirped to a dear friend that he felt like family to me. He went all sullen and later explained that in his birth family, his father came home every night and brutalized everyone under his roof. He said that is how he thinks of family and asked me to think of him as a friend, please, not as Fambly. His admission set me back on my heels, but failed to reprogram my feelings. I still think of him as Fambly, though I keep my yap shut about it.

My great grandfather disowned all but one of his kids. My dad grew up in the shadow of the old man's rages, being the son of one of the disowned ones. He still went back to visit family members in that little town, and he was always warmly welcomed because he was Fambly. My family's history includes at least one of every type of rogue, saint, sinner, and complainant, just like every family, I suspect. We think of ourselves as something really quite special, which renders us NuthinSpecial, I suppose.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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