Spokes on a Wheel

Estranged (adj) – one who formerly was close, who now has (or does) little in common with their former relative or friend.

This word begins to define the relationship between most of my siblings and me, but there is so much more to our situation than this description.

Thinking back, I’m convinced that we were never all that close to begin with. First of all, there are 10 of us, and there’s almost 27 years difference in age between the oldest and the youngest of us. In fact, it seems to me that our parents had what amounted to three separate families: three children born between 1951 and 1954; four children born between 1958 and 1964; and, three children born between 1968 and 1977. That means that some of us older ones were out on our own before our youngest siblings were even born. We didn’t have the common bond of growing up with everyone else and, to a certain extent, we each have very different memories of our parents, probably because they also changed during the many years they raised children. In essence, Mom and Dad were the hub of our family and each of us kids, especially as adults, related to them as if we were spokes on a wheel, but there was little meaningful interaction between us as siblings.

Dad kept the family together after Mom died in 2000 but relationships were stretched to the breaking point after Dad passed away in 2003, and we had to settle the estate. With 10 people involved, there were, naturally, lots of opinions, expectations, and disagreements about what should be done regarding financial matters. There was even more debate about the disposition of Mom and Dad’s personal belongings and family memorabilia. Ultimately, however, decisions had to be made and our parents’ belongings were divided among the family members. Not everyone was happy with the method that was used and some were disappointed that they didn’t end up with some of the things they especially wanted.

Now, more than seven years later, there is still very little communication among us. Some are so entrenched, so bitter, that they can’t or won’t reach out to others. Others are indifferent to the whole situation and go on with life as if they don’t even have siblings. My preference would be that we somehow find a way to honor our parents by mending our relationships and realizing that the family bond we share is valuable and worth preserving.

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