"Blood is thicker than water" is one of Mom's famous quotes that I heard often while I was growing up.
I didn't really understand what it meant until the time some friends of mine dared to talk badly of my little brother. I don't remember details, but I believe the gist of the story is that I could say what I wanted about my brother ... but no one else could put him down. I remember defending him quite adamantly on the phone. When I hung up, Mom's words were - "Now that deserves a pat on the back!"
That was quite likely the first time that the "blood is thicker than water" quote made sense to me.
Over the course of my life, I have found myself either thinking or saying that quote aloud when the blood connection trumped one of life's challenges.
Family sticks together. Sometimes you don't even consciously understand why you feel the way you do ... but it's that connection. The invisible ties that bind. Family.
This weekend, I was invited to join my aunt's family as her daughter (my cousin) came home for a rare visit. She lives in the U.S. and she had not been home in six years.
The house was full. People had come from far and wide to come and visit with my U.S. cousin. The old me would have avoided a situation like that like the plague. I was a 'distant' relative - a cousin. These were her parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and in laws. I didn't belong ...
But I did. I was welcomed with open arms. I talked to my visiting cousin at length. I talked with other family members and I was as comfortable as I would have been, sitting among my own siblings.
Family history, family connections, family humor ... we know each other. We get each other. After over two months of being surrounded with new people in a new environment learning a new job ... I was finally plunked into the middle of a family gathering. I felt like I had come home.
The group eventually depleted to few more than 'the sisters', a few of their adult daughters and my aunt. I know how much Mom cherishes those moments when she is with her immediate family. It was time for me to disappear.
I was still welcome to stay. But I left. I know how much I cherish my 'sister time'. I am fortunate to live close to both of my sisters and we take advantage of the opportunities that we have at our disposal. My cousin may not be 'home' for years to come and she has a lot of sister/mother/family bonding to pack into the few days that she is here.
I left with a happy heart. The essence of family was sprinkled into a regular, ordinary day. I have been running on empty lately. Moments like these fill me up.
I am grateful to my mom for nurturing those family ties with her stories and the sense of history that she has passed along. It made a day like yesterday comfortable and easy. I am grateful for those family connections.