Not Of Blood

When I saw that the topic for this month at TCK TOWN was family, to say the least, my emotions were mixed. My parents were alcoholics, and I was an only child. So, perhaps not the best environment to grow up in. I don’t resent them - they were what they were and really weren’t too abusive. I think I turned out ok, although I was overjoyed to leave home at the relatively young age of 13.

From a TCK perspective, being overseas all the time cut me off from relatives - back in the 60s and 70s airmail was king and phone calls were difficult and expensive. I only have snapshot memories of my grandparents and other relatives - nothing vivid or lasting - and have no family by blood except my son and his children, and, unfortunately, I really am not in touch with them either.

I must say that almost nothing can bring tears to my eyes like watching a movie or television show where there is a family that treats each other well. I find myself wishing I had been a part of a unit like that. With my not-so-secret addiction to Hallmark channel movies, obviously, family must be important to me, even if I try to be the strong, lonely type.

Having said all that, I do have my own family and it is a really great one. They just don't happen to be related by blood. I have been extremely fortunate to meet some people in my life for whom I care immensely, and I believe the feeling is mutual. We are not maudlin about it, but we are infinitely respectful of each other. We rely on one another like people in a family should, but at the same time, that consideration stops us from abusing each other. 

For this family that I have been able to gather around myself in my life, I count myself hugely fortunate. I have thought of myself as being alone for a long time. But I am so glad that I'm not. Scattered all over the world, they are a bulwark of strength for me and no matter what happens, they will be there for me and likewise me for them.

My family hails from Singapore, Turkey, New Zealand, America, England, Canada, Thailand, and the Philippines. Regretfully, I have lost touch with some of them, but I am trying to rectify that even now. There is no doubt that the members of this far-flung, yet tightly knit clan draw strength from each other. We have come together not because of blood, but because we share bonds of a common outlook on life, a customary way of treating people with respect, and mutual values that resound within all of us - something which unfortunately does not always seem to happen when you are related solely by blood (at least in my observation). The older I get, the more I appreciate the family I have acquired. Our numbers increase not through birth, but rather through meetings and relationships that are forged in life. And every new member brings amazing things to the table. I like it that way.

Does this make it hard to stay in touch? Yeah. It does. One needs to make an effort to keep the bonds alive and vibrant. Just like a garden, if you don’t take care of it, it doesn’t do so well. And I am working to improve my gardening skills every day.