On Family

‘On Family’ was originally written for my forthcoming e-book autobiography. It is preserved here for space reasons.


“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll



Despite the loss of Dad and Nickie we functioned (or tried to function) more or less as a core family group until around 1969, which happens to be the year I graduated from college – not itself a significant family event. The year 1969 feels about right as a crossover for our present purposes. It’s not that there was some event special to 1969; it’s about then that we effectively stopped trying to function as a family. Dana did not yet seem to be completely transmogrified by his bad LSD trips down into Dante’s Inferno, but he had problems getting along with people on even very basic social levels, and I was already warning him about his rants. Mum was still formidable, but changes in us both, which would soon give rise to our “Golden Years” together, were beginning to shine like a distant new star out of the blackness of night. You could see it, but it didn’t yet illuminate anything.

So, in our family, the most prized and truly heart-warming “good times” didn’t start to roll until about 1969. Most of my own truly game-changing events in my life would still be years or decades away.

And this certainly seemed ironic to a kid who, young once, worshipped the family of Wally and Beaver Cleaver as an ideal. I suppose this shattered another icon of youth, but, looking at the record, I’d rather have it the way it was, than the way it wasn’t. For others, perhaps, the time to make a difference in the family is while they are all still here, and we can smile and tell them it’s OK, we can make all this work and everything is going to be all right. For me, short of some scary Dr. Who scenario where I would go back in time using today’s hindsight to resolve yesterday’s failures, it is best just to cherish the good that was in each of us … and appreciate those times we did enjoy together.

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