I have a fascinating cast of characters that I call my relatives on both sides of my family. However, my father’s side is the one I grew up mostly around. Over the last month or, so many of my immediate family members and I have been working diligently on reconnecting with each other. My Grandma Lela whom I was named after had mostly sons that begot mostly daughters. We all grew up tremendously family oriented. It was not uncommon for more than one of us to be at Grandma’s house for a weekend visit or having a sleepover with our cousins while we were growing up.
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that some of my Aunts and Uncles are now communicating via iPhone’s Face Time application. They can’t actually text, but they know how to Face Time!?? I think that is absolutely adorable. I don’t even Face Time so now I have to get with the program and begin to in order not to miss my baby cousins’ fun times as they are growing up so fast!
In the Jefferson Clan, I am one of the younger cousins of my age group so I am thought of as a little sister more than a cousin. Last month after my car accident, one of my “older sisters” called me out on not reaching out to her right after it had occurred. So did my father’s brothers my surviving uncles and my aunt. My cousin was cross at me because we now live again in the same state. I couldn’t argue with any of my relatives or make excuses. They were all right. I was acting as if I didn’t have any family (outside of my husband), and I had to go through the ordeal all alone.
Somehow my sense of family dynamics had become warped since the decade after the loss of my parents. As I was planning my wedding and now the nearly two years since, the veil that was in front of my eyes separating me in a sense from communicating with my family has dissipated. I didn’t want to feel as a burden to my family. Or for them to feel sorry for me; ‘Poor little orphaned Lela; she lost her parents just as she was becoming a woman.’ They were not saying it, but that is how I felt. It’s a funny thing how negative emotions can cause so much havoc. Of course, they felt sorry for me; however, they were also in mourning. They had lost an aunt, sister, mother and an uncle, father and brother in some cases grandparents and a best friend. I think I just got tired of hearing them say “you are so much like your mother or father.” That I just wanted to be seen as “Lela”; a unique person in my own right.
I had not… I didn’t realize how much though I missed communicating with relatives on a consistent basis outside of the traditional holidays and milestone acknowledgements. My female Jefferson cousins by themselves are a hoot. Each of us has taken on many of our parent’s traits and roles amongst our collective. I may be the youngest, but I was the daughter of the oldest sibling of my Grandmother’s 6 children. My dad was considered extremely eccentric, opinionated and in his own way supremely lovable. When I exhibit similar traits I am called “Roberta”. My cousins have their own nicknames.
I even learned that they still rely stories amongst each other of events that happened when we were teenagers or should I say I was a teenager, and they were in their early 20s. Right now as I am writing this, the majority of the world is in its post Christmas celebratory state preparing for the New Year’s. I am African American and so I also celebrate Kwanzaa in my own way. I am striving to live out the principles. Reconnecting with my family and letting them know how much I do value them is high on my “to do list”.
© 2013 – 2014, Lela Jefferson Fagan. All rights reserved.