Recently my family and I were in the middle of another in a long line of skirmishes with each other. We like to have these about once a quarter just to keep each other on our toes. Generally they are over pretty stupid things but we are each determined to be the winner so they can drag on for days sometimes.
Ultimately we all come to our senses and things get resolved and life goes on, if not a tad worse for the wear. Over the years I have questioned myself on whether or not I loved my family still. For me, it just didn't feel like love anymore and it made me confused and a bit sad.
Then, this weekend, we had friends in from out of town and as we discussed how everyone was doing and how were the families the lightbulb went off for me. I am always surprised at how I can still learn things even as I approach sixty-eight years on earth.
I figured out that love is different for different things and people. My love of Italian beef sandwiches, or chocolate cake, or beer, is not the same as my love for Linda. Neither is the love I have for friends the same as the love I have for my family.
Even though they are different, it doesn't mean I don't love them, it means I love them in a different way. How stupid of me to think that all love was the same. This is why I have been so conflicted over the years about family and friends and my feelings towards them.
And to be clear I am not saying that my love of chocolate cake is even close to my love for Linda, although on a given day...no, its' obviously different. The problem with family, for me, is that they know how to push all your buttons. Think about the history they have with you.
That day when you were four and your sister took your favorite crayon to color in her coloring book. That day when he was seven and you saw your brother take the marshmallow Easter egg he wasn't supposed to touch. Or the time when you were in college and you came home drunk but your sister didn't say anything. All those little times you shared come back to the surface when your family pisses you off.
It's like the scene from a movie, played out all over the world between siblings, where one kid is standing in front of another with his finger millimeters from the others nose, repeating over and over, "I'm not touching him, I'm not touching him, I'm not touching him."
You want to punch them in the nose but you don't. Instead you yell for your mother, "Mom, he's teasing me." This brings her out from the kitchen where she proceeds to smack both of you telling you both to knock it off. Add another item to the list you will remember forever about why your brother drives you insane.
Most of you have probably figured this out years ago. I know I'm a little slow in learning some life's lessons, but I keep trying. I don't know if having figured this out will make me a better person or even a better brother and son, I'm guessing no, but we'll see.
The fact that I figured it out will make me feel better about myself and for those of you that know me, this is really all that is important, if the other happens, gravy.
Here is one of the last pictures of the whole Chicago Marich clan together before my dad passed away. Clearly Christmas was much more festive for mom and dad then it was for the rest of us but at least we are all smiling. It actually looks like we love each other.
The button pushing must have come later that day.