I got a text from my Mom that my Uncle Jerry had passed away last night. My family isn’t really all that close, but he was one of the ones I do actually remember going to their house occasionally when I was a young child and enjoying it. I feel like my Dad really loved his brother, but their relationship was really frequently up and down.
I do remember all the “snipe” hunts Uncle Jerry would take us out to go do, and how fun he could be. He would wait till the evening hit, then take us around the darkened buildings of his cement plant with a flashlight, looking for “snipes.” It was scary, but fun when you were a small child.
I remember sitting on his lap, and him having the pet name “wiggle worm” that he called me because I “wiggled around so much.”
I remember on a ride home my Mom saying once that she kind of didn’t like it because she said she thought he was insinuating that I was chunky or something… but I remember not caring, and personally not taking it negatively at all. I didn’t see how my Mom got that and remember thinking that she was a bit overly sensitive… and that was me having those thoughts at 5 or 6 years old.
I remember what a yoyo of emotions were always tied with those family situations (at least on our side). There was a time when my family would use their land next to our farm for awhile, and then we wouldn’t because they rented it out (making my parents really mad.. I remember hearing about it all the time for awhile there).
In all honesty, my Uncle wasn’t exactly getting much out of letting my family use it in the first place. Its very likely that the best choices weren’t really being made regarding its use.
While my Dad is the absolute hardest worker I know, He’s not a business man, nor a viable business developer. Dad is amazingly good at adapting and figuring out how to get by on next to nothing. But, when it came to the farm in general, things just never seemed to pick up or grow successful. This was likely because of choices made and decisions adhered to, and lack of willingness to adapt to the times because of pride. Everything always remained a dramatic struggle, and we never seemed any better off or financially stronger during the times we actually did had access to use their land.
Growing up, adults in my family seemed to be in constant state of emotional frustration and turmoil. Most of it self generated over not being very willing to be at all understanding of choices made by each party for the “good” of their own respective families. It seemed a consistent choice of taking things personal rather than being willing to understand the logic and rational that brought the other party to make their decisions they made in the first place.
Its was always easier to just focus intently on how someone has “hurt” you, or made it “difficult” for you rather than to have to give the other side any understanding at all.
The reality is though that often events aren’t even meant as intentionally personal as we take them.
I have no idea what my Uncle’s family talked about, or how they dealt with any of it, or even if they even really knew the turmoil was even going on. I don’t know if the topics were ever as dramatic as the take “our family” seemed to have on things, or if it was yet another instance of un-communicated frustrations, my family seemed known for. We seemed good at complaining internally, but bad at actually working through situations to find lasting resolutions.
I’m sure I don’t know the whole story, but honestly I do remember feeling like our side of things were being a little over the top unreasonable in thinking that they should just let us continue to use their resources in a manner that really wasn’t very successful or beneficial to either of us. I felt like it was a mountain that should have been a mole hill.
I realize now that it was probably some of these observations of my family attitudes and dealings that really shaped how I grew to think differently about things. These thoughts and interactions as a child was kind of what taught me internally, that honestly its not ever as easy of a case that people are plain “good” or “bad”, many times they are just doing the best they can with what they had, and no amount of getting caught up emotionally in taking things personally ever helped resolution or healing to occur any faster.
It taught me that if you wanted solid truth rather than emotional “truth”, you had to consider someone else’s point of view of a situation beyond what seemed most convenient for you personally, and that if you wanted anything to ever change, you had to actually be willing to DO SOMETHING different, COMMUNICATE better, and be REASONABLE in your attitudes towards others, EVEN WHEN it isn’t that convenient for you personally.
I enjoyed my Uncle Jerry, and even though I didn’t have a ton of interactions with him beyond that I had when I was young, (mostly because of all the discourse), I am thankful for the lessons his presence in my life came to help me realize.