Recently I attended a family gathering for my Aunt and Uncle’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. It had been quite a while since I had seen that side of my family and many weren’t even aware I had moved to Kelowna. For one specific cousin it had been six years since I last saw him; fifteen for my brother. Needless to say it was great catching up with our family that I haven’t been in regular contact with since becoming an ‘adult’. Much of what happened reflected as much. My inability to join for breakfast day two because of my awful hangover arguably the most obvious. Throughout the festivities a common theme kept creeping into my mind; the age gap between us as siblings is vast. Sixteen years between my older brother and younger sister just to give you an idea. Now before you ask no I was’t an accident eleven years in the making. My parents felt like they were much to young to be empty nesters at forty so they decided to have another child and thankfully add my sister into the family three years later.

This eleven year gap between middle children made our lives completely different. Our experiences growing up, how we viewed different family members, and what we knew of each other. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve always known the gap is large but this was the first time it smacked me in the face. During the program we all introduced ourselves and talked about experiences we remember when thinking of my aunt and uncle. This really demonstrated to me how each pair of us kids experienced life and family very differently. My cousins were men that guided and taught my sister and I when we were young children while they were like older brothers to goof around with for my elder siblings. A strange idea to me as my sister and I grew up alone in an age group without any close relatives. All our cousins on both sides are currently in the thirty to fifty range while our second cousins are fourteen and younger. When my Father got up to deliver a speech my thought process ventured down the rabbit hole a little farther. Each of us go through life defining events at different ages as I’ve now come to realize. What hasn’t always been obvious to me though, just another sign of my naivety, my parents would have gone through these as well. My Dad was fifteen years younger than my aunt and the mark she made on his life was very clearly presented in his speech. For whatever reason I had never considered the possibility that his sister had a hand in shaping the man he had become by helping raise him when he was a child and later taking him in when he was a young man; much like my sister is currently doing for me now.

Leaving that weekend I had a new hunger to know everything about everyone in my immediate family. I quickly tempered that feeling as I accepted this is a part of life and knowing everyones backstories simply isn’t possible. On the other hand I now have a new level of respect and care towards not only my parents and immediate family but also people I interact with on a day to day basis. You really never know what someone has gone through in life and what has caused them to be the person they are today. Something that should probably be common sense wasn’t so common; I needed a bit of a wake up call and I got it. Perhaps certain decisions my parents made while I was growing up had motivation behind them besides just ruining my fun. Though go back and tell that to hormonal teenager me and he’ll tell you where to shove it.

Till next time.

JD

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