My big brother is coming tomorrow (probably today when you're reading this.) I am really looking forward to seeing him. The folks have had a bit of a rough start here in Minnesota, and this visit will be great medicine for them. And for me. I need face time with my partner in care-taking.
My bro and I are vastly different people, and we have led completely different lives. My guys have always adored their uncle, and in truth, I love my brother; I just didn't know him very well. I know him much better now.
When Ziggy had the poor form to die, my bro decided something needed to be done about "us," and he instituted the weekly call. They were kinda weird at first; I think we were both trying to get to know each other after 50+ years. Slowly, we found common interests, a middle ground. It’s just not Sunday if I don’t talk to my Big Bro.
We were of one mind when we decided that the folks could no longer be on their own. We talked about a number of options, we each did some looking around, but it was pretty clear the best thing was to bring them to Minnesota. So we did. And if anyone had told me that I would find the best possible partner for making this happen in my very own big brother, I woulda laughed. Turns out, our own family values were at the center of the decision making process…even if we did not realize it.
See, here's the thing: lots of people talk about family values. They talk about two-parent households, what kind of parents make up two-parent households. They talk about what other people do in their own bedrooms as if it's anyone else's business. They talk about lots of stuff that they think comprise family values, when the truth is, they just don't get it.
I'm sick to death of the GOP Clown Cavalcade talking about families as if they exist in a vacuum, sustainable by wishes and fantasy. They never talk about the work it takes to keep a family up and running. Jeb! had the unmitigated gall to suggest lower-income people had to work longer hours to earn more money. How about paying them a living wage that would allow them to have one job AND spend time with their families?
Family values are when a family decides how a family is going to be put together. Family values begin with families loving each other. Please notice I said loving....not liking, they are not the same thing, and you don't always like everyone in the clan even when you love 'em. Family values are when the family pulls together when faced with a crisis and members of the family view themselves as one cohesive unit.
Family values are not based on gender, sexual orientation, dogma, or totalitarianism. Family values do not shun, discard, or diminish family members. Family values are not exclusionary.
The Clown Cavalcade is only here to tell you who to hate and how to hate them. They are telling you who to exclude and who to revile. They talk about loving their neighbor, but most of the time they are busy trying to make sure their neighbor has no health insurance. They talk about wanting small government, but I think that means small enough to have a fiber-optic camera poking out of the light fixture in your bedroom. Their version of family values may have more to do with family jewels, and not all of those are in the safe deposit box in the vault.
If these guys want to talk about family values, how about respecting the family unit, not dictating who can and cannot be a member of your family. They need to be talking about how families can function without fear of economic disaster. They need to grok the reality that having kids is expensive, and forcing families to have more of them isn't a value, it's a death sentence.
What makes family values possible is the sense of safety when the family unit pulls together.
In the end, it really is about safety.
When Ziggy was dying, I was thankful that we seemed to have a pretty solid family safety net. As the weeks and years went by, the values represented by that safety net became a touchstone for FIL. He saw a family care about each other, even him. He didn't understand it, but he came to appreciate that the system worked, and that it included him despite his skepticism. Our family values in bringing my folks here is more than the right thing to do; it's the only thing to do. To leave the folks in Florida would have been to abandon them even with all the other family and friends there. Our family values would not permit that. It’s not just me, my brother, and my sister-in-law who are pulling this all together, the two grandsons….Senior and his significant other and Junior and his wife….have played crucial roles in making this happen. Their understanding of what constitutes a family. And when we all look at Little Miss, we know why.
So the next time some GOP jerk starts talking about family values, see if you can ask what his/hers are. Does he care for aged parents? Ask the spouse and kids, "is the candidate kind and loving, or aloof and distant?" And ask the candidate, "Do you believe families have the right to self-determination, or should the government decide how many kids you should have?"
In the meantime, figure out what you think your family values are. You might be surprised at what you think is important.
We are one very lucky family. Our family values work for us. And I am damn glad they do.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day
NFF: Not For Family
when a dish on the table is more popular than anticipated...
and we're running low.
NFF never has to be said. A family just knows.