Friday, December 20, 2013

What does ‘family’ mean?

This time last year, I been with the fambly in Florida

Thinking about them, a wallopin’ longing hit me. I curse this migration-monster that haul them away from me.

People used to wail out they soul at we airport when the mass migration did just start. Them women used cry out as if somebody dead, and they holler, ‘'Ow son, me no know when me go see you again.” Fathers and brothers used to shed hot tears too.

Me and my cousins and siblings used to snicker and feel superior. We children had we parents and aunties and uncles and each other here, nobody ain’t going nowhere, not migrating, not my family.

But as circumstances change in this land, one by one we family…we blood…start to go too. One by one they drain away. Aunties, cousins, siblings, uncles…gone.

This longing make me think about what family mean to me.

It is more than shared memories and genes. I got people related to me that I would be shame to call ‘family’ because of the way they treat other people. That kinda person ain’t family, in my books.

Family is blood guiding, correcting. Family is worrying for each other. Is lecturing and nagging one another to do what we think is the right thing, and calling each other stubborn…oh, save me from these people I think, lemme get away far from them. But deep down I know I don’t want saving from them. And we encourage each other to do whatever we want to do anyway.

Family is blood thick with discussions…some disagreeable but you know that when them gritty words blow ‘way like dust you gon talk to one another with ease again.

It is blood flowing strong with affection; is all of we hanging on together when life start to crumble, when sickness and other problems tearing we down.

And yeah, is that weird humour that we believe outsiders can’t get and might even be shocked at because is irreverent.

Some folks tell me that friends can be like blood for them, and that is good. I got some friends who feel like family too. But I know friends ain’t enough for me. Used to be a time I live far from home and had scores of friends surrounding me yet I did crave to be with family.

Them countries that got the best of my family...them countries just don't know how they lucky.


Elephant's Child said...

Friends are the family I choose. And some of them the ties are stronger than blood.
Which is, I suspect, because much of my original family behaves in ways that shame me. Of my blood family I crave less not more.

Sooshie said...

I am sure they all feel the same way you do.

Kim Ayres said...

Maggie and I were chatting yesterday about how much less family is around, and how noticeable that is at Christmas.

12 years ago we had 5 children in the house, plus a friend and her daughter round on the day. Then before New year we would go and spend a day with my parents, and another with Maggie's parents.

This year we have 3 of the offspring for the day, and no parents to visit (my father is still alive but lives several hundred miles away).

Christmas feels so much smaller these days

John Greenwood said...

Beautifully written! Have good Christmas, GG! xxx

Guyana-Gyal said...

Thank you, JohnG, have a wonderful Christmas too xxx

Kim, is it also like that for other families there?
How did so many families grow so small?
I know, for us, the reason is migration. Every single person you meet here has family overseas. Fortunately, I still have my mother's cousin, my dear Auntie M.

Sooshie, do you ever wish that migration had not broken up families? I've never asked my siblings and cousins if they've ever dreamt of coming back home.

Child, for me, it was this: my siblings, cousins, my friends and their friends formed a huge group. There always used to be laughter, food, music, in this house. Oh boy. As Guyanese say, "After one time, it's another."

Sooshie said...

I know what you mean., but it's ben so long, I guess we are used to being far away. It's been 49 years for me. I have lost 5 brothers and sisters plus my parents since.And life goes on. After one time, it's another.

Keith said...

Government statistics say that there are over 3 million old people in this country (England) who will be spending Christmas alone; I am one of them. I have a large family of cousins (13) most of who are married with children, a sister who lives 5 miles away with 3 married sons with families and I have not seen or heard from them for several years. For the last 18 years I have spent the Christmas week completely alone. Not one invite, not even to call round on Christmas Day for a glass of sherry and a mince pie. There, now you know my terrible secret. I am disgusted with the lot of them!

Guyana-Gyal said...

Keith, that is heartbreaking. How does one break the silence? How does one mend the rift?
So many lonely old people. Why???

Sooshie, you're right, after one time, it's another.
I remember tales of immigrants, those who came from India. Some did go back...but returned to Guyana because they couldn't live in India again.

Keith said...

You ask "So many lonely old people. Why?".

Over the last two generations people have become more and more selfish. They think only of themselves whilst in the constant pursuit of money and material things. Society here in England has disintegrated, nobody cares about others any more.

Vest said...

There are far too many Young bone idle workshy uncaring layabouts, which leaves too few young caring people to attend to the needs of helpless elderly and the situation will get worse - there is little hope for an end to this tragedy.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Vest / Keith...I believe the media has had a lot to do with this. I remember when the media used to play up on the glory, the beauty, the power of youth.
Because I had so many good, interesting, influential old folks around me, I used to be offended.

I can see this selfishness taking root in my country now too, but we still have many with traditional values.

Fortunately, if this problem is recognised, and the very young are taught to treasure their older family members, who knows what good can come out of it.

Pat said...

So many lonely old people - another reason is that we live longer - our children get older and haven't as much time and energy to deal with us.
I agree with John GG: you write about this beautifully.
All my best wishes and love for a happy healthy 2014 for you and the family. Especially Mum.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Pat, thank you a million. I will pass on your wishes to my mother, and to my family.
I pray for, I wish all kinds of happiness for you and your sons and their wives and all the lovely grands.

metrocaribbean said...

Nice blog..Thanks for the post...Merry Christmas..

Guyana-Gyal said...

Hello Metrocaribbean, thank you. And welcome to Guyana :-)

cadiz12 said...

Apologies if you get this comment twice.

I know exactly how you feel, gg. Lately I have been superclingy to my family and get very nervous when one of them strays very far (as if I have the power to stop bad things from happening). I hope you get to see your far-away family again very soon.

Speaking of glorifying youth, I think Craig Ferguson's got it spot on here:
Craig Ferguson on why everything s*cks

Guyana-Gyal said...

Cadiz, ohhh yes, that's so me, I feel as if it's my job to protect, take care of. I think my siblings feel the same way too, hahaha. We lecture each other.

That Craig Ferguson video was super super-super :-D

Stephen Bess said...

I feel you GG. I have family I wouldn't claim as well. :)I'm able to invent family wherever I find myself. It used to be about only "blood" but it has now been extended to whoever I find myself loving. lol! One big family. For instance, you're my cyber-sister down in Guyana. Peace and Happy New Year!

Vest said...

A Happy and Prosperous new year to you nice lady.

Kim Ayres said...

Wishing you the very best for the year ahead. Meanwhile, if you pop over to my blog you'll find a wee award waiting for you :)

Jdid said...

"I got people related to me that I would be shame to call ‘family’ because of the way they treat other people. That kinda person ain’t family, in my books."

never a truer word said. I tell my wife that I hold family to a higher standard than regular people. I feel dem is you blood so they should have you best interest at heart not try to cheat you or treat you bad an den pretend they aint do you nuttin. If is a mistake we can forgive one anudda but deliberately trying to be bad to ya family so man that not nice at all(ya give me an idea for a post though)

Guyana-Gyal said...

Jdid, I'm so glad to see you blogging again! I await that post about fambly.

Kim, thank you! I love awards [I shamelessly admit]. I can't figure out how to put it in the sidebar though. I tried, oh how I tried.

If anyone knows, and can tell me? Thank you.

Vest, the same to you and your family and all your loved ones.

Stephen, as I once asked my mother, why do people have to behave badly?
Oh, I like that, cyber-sister, it has a nice rhythm too.

Kim Ayres said...

If you right-click on the award image you can either "copy link location", or save and download the image to your computer.

Then go to your dashboard and go to "Layout". From there you should be able to "add a gadget" to your sidebar. Then you can insert an image either by using the link you copied, or uploading the image if you saved it.

If all else fails, send me an email and I'll try and give you more detailed instructions :)

Guyana-Gyal said...

Kim, I've tried everything! De t'ing ain't working! I have an idea. I'll try something different...

Novelcafe said...

My Dear Brave Gyal,
Ahh, the changes and re-arrangements of place and time where we now live. I think they affect us all over. Best of luck with your new start up space.

I was thousands of miles away from here (Toronto) where I now call 'home' for the last 39 years but in Hong Kong with its' tropical enviro, flora and old neighbourhoods that I felt some nuances and saw glimpses of my past in the old Guyana of my youth.

It's really sad how the manipulation of migrations happened to millions then and now.

Sometimes as I reflect where I am today, I believe the fear based psychology did it.. pulled people away from their present life, created discontent, restlessness, lack of confidence in their place and person, and drove them to where they knew so little ..mostly to become peons in places that needed worker bees.

This is not to say success did not happen to many. There is success.

But the fracturing of families..ahh that is the painful part.

Take heart my dear, life offers each of us fresh starts with change. Love..S in Toronto.