I recently had a conversation with a friend who complained about having family so close-by.
“They just show up! Unannounced! They overstep their boundaries and discipline my kids, they never even give me a chance to correct them,” she lamented. Her list of grievances also included being dragged into family drama, feeling obligated to always participate in family functions, and never having weekends to themselves.
I smiled and nodded sympathetically in all the right places as I listened to her story. Probably, if we lived close to family, I might even feel the same way. I’d likely even need an anonymous blog to complain about those kooky people with whom Tate and I share history and DNA. Yet it’s hard to relate to these family “horror” stories since I don’t have family that is closer than an eight hour drive away.
I do not want to play the “who has it worse” game, because that’s unfair. Family that’s too close and family that’s too far away each have their fair share of pitfalls and annoyances. But last Friday night, my dad had a heart attack and I was 650 miles away. My mom waited in the hospital completely alone and I couldn’t be there to hold her hand and tell her that her husband of almost 40 years was going to be fine. I couldn’t just be there.
On Saturday morning, my mom called and told me the news about my dad. She assured me that he was fine, that he’d even driven himself to the emergency room. Early Saturday morning he received a stent in his heart and was recovering in ICU.
“You don’t need to come,” she assured me, “he’s really fine. He’ll be going home within a day or two.”
At 5:00 Sunday morning, Tate, the kids, and I set out for my hometown. Simply hearing, “he’s really fine,” was not enough. It’s not that I didn’t believe my mom, but I needed to see my dad and KNOW that he really was okay. I also knew that I needed to be there for my mom.
Maybe the fact that we live so far from our extended family makes me appreciate the time we do spend together all the more. But I’d give just about anything to be that person who could complain about having family too close. In these times of family crisis, too close would be a blessing.