Generations; Part II.

My maternal grandfather was the patriarch of my entire family. He died in 1981. When he was a alive, he worked for a living. He did own his own sheet metal fabrication company, Walt Palmer Supply, which he founded in 1958. After he died, his three sons, my mother’s brothers, Walt, Jody, and Mark, took it over. They run it to this day, and they do so well. They are Union members; as is the shop. For this, I am proud of them. . . My grandfather worked hard and taught his family to work hard. As far as I can tell, almost 70 years into his progeny, and most of us still work hard and try to do right by ourselves and our peers. After he passed away, my father assumed the role of patriarch. He led the family in matters that needed leading. We were a close bunch. Every year for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, we would gather at my grandmother’s house. I have very strong and positive memories of my family growing up. I loved my family and everything for which it stood.

I was taught to be respectful. I was taught to care about other people (before yourself) and above all, Iw as taught to accept everyone in spite of their differences. This was all pretty good liberal stuff. We don’t discriminate, we don’t turn people away, we don’t deprive people of any of the necessities. I was taught – if I had more of something than I needed, then I probably did not need the rest. Someone, somewhere, DID need my extra. So, it was our responsibility to help them out by giving them what they needed. Even the most conservative members of my family never hesitated to give when they could. We were all good Democrats, probably because we were all “good” Catholics. Catholicism teaches against miserliness. In fact, all of Christendom teaches against being a miser. . .

I was taught it was a social responsibility to care for other people who could not care for themselves. I grew up believing that was, kind of, the only way. Here it is 2009. It has been almost 30 years since my grandfather passed away and 20 since my father has been gone. In that 20 years, I have witnessed a categorical, unambiguous shift in my family’s attitudes, actions, and beliefs. And, I will say, just as unambiguously, it saddens me. I can only assume what has become of my family is the result of a lack of figure-head. For reference, if you don’t know – my mother had 9 siblings. There was her, Sheri, Walt, Annette, Carla, Roberta, Kalani, Jody, Melanie, and Mark. (And if that is in order, I will be very impressed with myself.) In the last 20 years, no one stepped up to take the helm of the Palmer clan. That, I believe has caused us to splinter into clans that could actually compete against one another if all dropped on an island. What disappoints me most, is that not many people seem to see this. Or, if they do – no one cares enough to do anything about it. Of my mother’s 9 siblings, 8 stayed in the Salt Lake Valley. I could not tell you the last time all 8 of them were at the same place at the same time.

Our respective families do not attend weddings. Hell, we are not all even invited to weddings. If it were not for Facebook, I don’t think I would even know who all IS married. Who am I kidding – I probably DON’T know who is married. And if I did – I guarantee I could not tell you the names of all my cousin’s spouses. That’s just not right. 8 people in the Valley to take over familial leadership; to become the tribal elder. . . and instead of doing so, we have splintered. We have become 10 independent tribes. And the part that saddens me the most, is that some of these tribes do not share the same ideologies that existed only 1 or 2 generations ago. Gone are the days of caring for everyone. Gone are the days of accepting people for who they are. What we have now are massive e-mail blasts criticizing our President for pushing legislation that might actually do some fucking good for Americans. We have ideologies of isolationism and anti-immigration. I receive these emails all the time, as well. . . We have hate. We have intolerance. We have tribes that have forgotten their heritage. He have a collection of people so caught up in their own lives that the life of the matriarch becomes a fleeting thought.

My grandmother was born in 1918. This year, she turned 91. She is hanging in there, but not without her struggles. This past Thanksgiving may have been her last, or she may have 10 more, we’ll not really know until it happens, but her family could not even get it together enough to have a dinner at her house. A few people had organized for dinner to be at 5:00. I was there, with my crew. Two of my siblings showed up (one did not) and a few of my cousins, aunts, and uncles did, as well. . . But not many. A minority – a small minority came by to eat with my grandmother. To be fair, neither I nor mine actually ate, but we were there are 5:00 to see her and be with her as a family. Many were not.

I wish I knew why we have grown apart. I wish I could fix it. I wish we shared the same views as those of our fathers and still cared enough to do what we could for the salvation of the clan. . . I just don’t see it happening. I see bigger schisms in the future. I see greater holes and wider gaps. I see distancing of exorbitant proportions. And, I gotta tell you – I don’t like it. I miss my family. I miss people looking out for one another. I miss us.

I’m exhausted. Good night.


~ by shinshige on 17 December 2009.

One Response to “Generations; Part II.”

  1. […] Original post:  Generations; Part II. « Shinshige's Simple Rules of Life […]

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