Piecing things together seems to be a theme around here lately. I have been learning how things fit, how people fit, and realizing that perfection can only rise from imperfection. Occasionally, the two words can become synonymous.
We had a bit of a scare with one of my relatives the other day. Not something new, or even unexpected, but still enough to cause worry to rest in a ball just beneath my heart.
I suppose I should backtrack.
My family has been fragmented for as long as I can remember. Even though we have nearly always lived fairly close to each other geographically, we often have gone for very long stretches without seeing each other or speaking. This is less of an active decision than a function of some deeper reason, which I think we are all still trying to figure out. I spent many years alternately trying to force us together, or giving up and trying to remove myself entirely. I think some people, some families, do that.
I have always been in awe of those families that just “work”. They remain friendly and involved despite marriages, deaths, divorces, and minor everyday crises which change the fabric of our relationships. Mine was never one of those families, and after years of struggling with that, I decided several years ago that it’s just fine. That’s not us. And it’s okay.
I have come to the conclusion that most families are like a patchwork quilt. You start with a pile of fabric scraps, and perhaps some idea of what it will look like in the end, perhaps none. If you’re very lucky, the fabric pieces are all uniform, with neat edges that are easily sewn together. More likely, the pieces are not uniform. Some are larger than others, some are unlikely shapes, some are so small that you may have to cut them and piece them together to make just one square, some of them may have edges so frayed or be so threadbare that you are unsure whether they can be bound to another piece.
When I found out the other day that my mother was having some health issues, I immediately encouraged her to go to the doctor. She of course, refused. I am not someone to whom she will listen. After talking with her on the phone, and encouraging her to make better decisions about her health care, I was still really bothered by the conversation. I thought a lot about it, then emailed my sister, and asked if she could talk to mom. Maybe mom would listen to her. If nothing else, my sister works in medicine, and would probably have a clearer idea of the level of risk this was. Fortunately, it is easily corrected — something I suspected as a possibility, but would have never known. And even more fortunately, my mom seems to have listened to my sister on this one, and made an appointment to see the doctor.
I am just grateful. There was a time when I probably wouldn’t have contacted my sister. I would have tried to promote a solution on my own. I would have made the doctor’s appointment myself, and then fiercely tried to convince my mom to go. So, I suppose I am learning. I am so grateful for my sister’s wisdom and her help to navigate the situation. And slowly, slowly, I am beginning to see how we all piece together, even though I have no idea what the finished product will look like.
It’s as though we are sitting in this pile of scraps, trying to decide how each of us will deal with it. Sometimes, we ignore them. Sometimes we get angry because they are not the right fabric, or the right texture. Years ago, I decided to give up, making occasional attempts to place a piece or two next to each other to see if they fit easily, then moving on with my life. Several months ago, I noticed my sister sitting quietly to one side, arranging the pieces, and starting to sew. The last few months, I have been locating my needle and thread, and am starting to join her.