Perspective - FAMILY Love
The week of MAY 13, 2019 I traveled to Fort McMurray, Alberta to attend a family funeral for my eldest sister’s husband, Frank. It was a sad occasion, as all passings tend to be, but it bought our family together to support our sister, as funerals generally do. And it gave me rise for reflection about the person who passed, our own mortality, and family. I often think about the blessing of coming from a large family. Sure, we have disagreements, but we respect each other.
I was fortunate to be met with love and acceptance by all the family. It felt great, and I basked in the glow of that feeling. It might be because I am their baby sister that I often get so much love from family. I don’t question it; I enjoy it.
As I observed my family over the course of the week I noticed that, unfortunately, not everyone is treated with the same acceptance. I decided to reflect on my reactions to family dynamics. Indeed, it goes without saying in every family there are those who are seen as whacky, or bothersome, as someone to be avoided, like that weird uncle, and so on. I may be one to avoid because of my observation.
For example, one of my brothers is shunned, by some They may have their reasons, but in my humble opinion I think they are missing out in some good teachings’, even if it is only to accept him. To be able to accept another, including their shortcomings, is a valuable teaching. At times we only look for short comings. We look for anything that supports our view of that person. We don't pick up the phone to call for clarification. We are happy that we got the evidence to support what we already believe. And it is ok. We let anger and hate lead us.
Honestly, my first reaction is to go along with everyone. It is easier than defending the person. Because minds are made up. However, I didn’t like how it made me feel. I pride myself on being authentic and always acting with integrity. Going along with disparaging characterizations, even if true to them, just to keep the peace, for me is not acting with integrity.
I made a commitment to myself to work hard to accept everyone, all family, and to stand up for them, even if that became uncomfortable for me. Just like I did for my mother. When I made an attempt to defend my brother, it was met with disdain: “Naw he is challenging, and he should take care of his family before putting his nose in our business,” was the irritated response. In fact some may not like this post. But it is truthful. Most importantly it is my point of view.We are entitled to our perspective.
No one is perfect, including me. But I believe in walking our talk. The first opportunity I got was after we left the funeral. At the establishment where the meal was arranged everyone was responsible to pay for their own meal. Which is OK. We are a large family. However A small group of the family were about to leave because they could not afford it. I wanted them to stay, to support my grieving sister, so I offered to pay for their lunch. The initial response was: “No, it is too much!” But I insisted, and they accepted. There were 14 of them. I observed them eating and sharing stories, laughing among themselves. It made me feel good, that I was instrumental in their happiness and feelings of acceptance by everyone. That is what family is about. I didn’t do it for recognition or thanks. I did it because we are family. I did it quietly, without announcement.
And, the next day my 75 year old brother showed up at my hotel, I welcomed him with an open heart. I chose to see him for his intention and that he wanted to hang out with me. He had no other motive than to visit and spend time with me because he loves me. I get it. I appreciated that he wanted to spend time with me. He came to the hotel three days in a row. Some of you might groan, but we had good discussions, and I enjoyed our visits. We went for a nice walk and talked. It was a nice day. My perspective is to take from our visits the good feeling that come with wanting to share time with someone you value.
I don’t always agree with him. In fact, I don't really understand him most of the time. He is from another generation. He has interesting views on gender roles based on Denesuline tradition, which I find somewhat old-fashioned. But knowing what he does and says comes from a place of love makes it acceptable. He genuinely means no harm and has good intentions and a good heart. It was lovely hearing his stories of bygone days.
The highlight of my visit was a picnic by the lake with my sisters. It was my brother Fred’s idea that I visit Dora, and he paid my taxi fare to go to her place. When I got there, she was getting ready to go. And then she invited me along.
To learn from an elder, you first must be open to the teaching. Be enthusiastic to learn. Have an active will to put the teaching into action and most importantly stick to what you learn. Reflect on the teachings. See if it is for you.
My take away of our visits are (I observed by watching and listening to my brother)
1. He loves his wife and sons
2. Was taught by Dene elders as a child
3. Was a Dene translator for elders
4. He can pass on stories of those who passed, like from our relatives in Fond Du Lac, Saskatchewan
5. He can transfer cultural protocols
6. He is caring and generous
7. He is encouraging
8. He has a good sense of humor
9. He does not take himself seriously
10.He loves to read.
11.His Denesuline knowledge will die with him (Especially if younger people don’t spend time with him now) And that will be a real loss!
The lessons I learned from him are based on the foundation of Dene Laws and are:
1. Be open-minded
2. It is good to share a meal together
3. Listen carefully
4. Be present
5. Don’t gossip about other family members
6. Be kind
7. Share what you have with others
8. Help one another
9. Be compassionate
|OWEN / LISA|