I have begun to be very aware of what family means, and amazingly, I have realized, it does not mean the same to every member. For me as an only child, my parents were absolutely everything – warmth, security, comfort, the font of all knowledge, the barometer of views and values. For me as a parent, my remaining parent is a much loved responsibility, vulnerable, generous, loving and ingenuous. For my children, we are a bit of an embarrassment, out of touch, naiive, poorly informed about everything important and obsessed with trivia like gardening, our caravan, dogs and home improvement.
Even my relationship with Bob has changed, deepening in its intensity and its mutual dependency. He is, and always will be, my best friend, my confidant, my advisor and, with regards to technology, my very unwilling pupil.
Family goes beyond blood ties, including those who have made lasting impact on our lives, and who claim our loyalty and affection. Without this extension, our lives would be poorer and the pressure on our limited blood relatives would surely result in conflict and rupture.
Long live families in all their permutations, and complications. Even if we stray, eventually we return to the open arms and ‘I told you so’s’ of those who love us – may it always be so for all of you. With family, life can be full of responsibility, stressful, frustrating and rewarding; without family life would simply not be worth living …