Family is important….although some might not think it to look at me, I’m a real old fashioned kind of gal when it comes to holidays and celebrations.  Nothing I like better than a home full of laughter, people glad to see one another sharing favorite memories and making new ones!

I’ve been 3,500 or so miles-give or take a few-from the majority of that for a long time….oh, there have been the occasional visits but nothing really close enough for long enough to qualify as a “familial experience.”  Granted, that’s been my own choice; I’m the one who packed up everything back in March 1980 and made the life change. And sometimes I do wonder how things could have been if I’d decided to stay in the life I had back east.

Maybe watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” is bringing some of this stuff to the surface. You know, what if I’d been there when my brother Bob was in his crisis….would he have still committed suicide?  Would I have had any more children?  Would I have still been married even….?  Hmmm… much water under the bridge, all 30 years of it.  Do I regret my choices?

In truth….occasionally.  I miss being near my family, miss being able to see my birthson, even miss the old neighborhood which, upon my last visit, has gone through a lot of changes; even the railroad tracks are gone.
I’d have loved to watch nieces, nephews and cousins grow up and would have loved to have gotten closer to my father before his death.

But things are as they are. Sure, we all have parts of our lives that we’d do different if we could do them over, but there’s no reason to get all gloomy about it! Living with some regrets is human, living in regret is self destructive.

My decisions at the time were based on what facts I had on hand. Facts based on what I knew about me and how I was operating in my (then) present surroundings. At that time I was flat out C-R-A-Z-Y.  In truth, I had to leave in order to find out who I was.  I firmly believe that staying would have been my demise.  I had be somewhere to work through my mental illness without destroying the people around me.

So with that as impetus for my choices, I didn’t do too bad. I survived.

Life has been more difficult, that’s for sure.  I live in poverty.   My brothers and sister have owned homes, have retirement plans, do all the “normal” things that most folks do in that life.  I don’t think they fight back tears in the grocery store or wonder how they’re going to get their teeth fixed.  But then again, they don’t have the freedom I have to wake up in the middle of the night and record a track, or give an entire day over to creativity, just because.  So there is a trade-off.

For the most part, I am happy…wishing there was less to worry about financially and hoping to find a way to get new teeth, because it doesn’t make sense to pull the old ones ’til I have something waiting in the wings to replace them, but otherwise fairly content with things so far.

I needed to grow up, needed to get past the insanity, the excessive drinking and get on with the business of living…none of that could have happened in my hometown. Funny how things happen though. 

After years of family-less holidays we have Jack’s people on the West Coast to compliment my people on the East….and there seems to be a balance in my life again. Jack’s pretty happy to be in touch with his family, too. It’s been kind of a secret prayer of mine that he get back together with them….so don’t tell me miracles don’t happen!

So for now, Fifty Five Is The New Family; relatives and friends being together and sharing the love.

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