Tuesday, May 25, 2010
BLOOD is RELATIVE
“Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”—Edna Buchanan
I’ve learned from my experiences that sometimes your family--blood relatives--can be the most disappointing people in your life. If you’re reading my blog, it’s probably not YOU.
My late father kept some of his family in check when he married my mother. He made sure that we were respected. Why did he need to do this? My mother is Korean, and my father is Chamorro. My mother felt slighted when Chamorro was spoken in spite of her presence, but instead of griping, she did her best to learn the language. My mother, new to Guam, felt hurt when family got together in the next house and overlooked inviting her and her young children, but my pitbull father unleashed his wrath on them when he returned from a long day at work.
Love bloomed from my dad’s advocacy for fairness and for thirty years I truly believed I was loved by my father’s family. When he died, several members displayed their true colors. The ugliness in their hearts was there all along. My bitterness could not change it and my acceptance that I was fine without them in my life was LIBERATING.
My mother has returned to Guam, her true home. I remind her to love those who reciprocate love and not worry about the small mindedness of a few. When she left California to the island where she left her heart, only two families came to bid her farewell, the neighbors—the friends who respected and enjoyed her company for the past three years (not family). When she returned to Guam, there was no fanfare, but she had the genuine love of two sons to celebrate her return.
My husband’s family is in town now and I am loving every minute of it, even if my waistline has increased. Rice, rice, rice—Chamorro folk will understand. Saying no to an invitation to the table from an elder is like telling them that you don’t love them. My aunt and uncle don’t see me for being half-Chamorro, they see me for being a dutiful niece. They love my children like their own and they treat me with respect and courtesy.
In an effort to find acceptance and a sense of validity in my own family, I’m at a level of maturity where I know that that does not matter. I find acceptance in the eyes of my children, my husband, my friends and the family members who look beyond my skin color. I find worth in my daily work and I celebrate my life with those who love me, despite our DNA.