>When God blessed me with my family, I think He did it with a laugh.

Before I was married – I was a Jack. A name I say with pride. Being a Jack meant alot of things to me as a kid. It meant belonging to a large family (and I mean large!), it meant never being alone, always having playmates, having a grandma who was always there and knowing I would be spoiled by one uncle or another. I used to love all the family gatherings. To me as a child it held a totally different meaning to me than as an adult.

I can remember three main places where our family picnics, reunions or bbq’s were held. As a young child, I have countless photos celebrating my birthday at the Hanover park surrounded by my family. As a young teen I have fond memories of being at either my Grandma’s house or at my Aunt Sharon’s old house in the country. As a young adult these memories were at our home where we would have a large bbq, complete with a game of baseball and a dip in the pool. It was never complete until there was a bonfire at night.

When I think of family, and what it means to me – despite the family arguments, the hurts and longing – I remember these gatherings the most. I remember getting that hug from my favorite aunt and my hair being tussled from my favorite uncle. I recall running around like crazy with my countless cousins – and even meeting a cousin that I never knew about (which wasn’t difficult, I think I must have 100 cousins (first and second) – no joke).  I recall the laughs, the fights, and most importantly knowing I was never unloved.

Now, as an adult, away from the family – despite knowing that as a child I wore rose colored glasses and was ignorant of all the arguments, feuds, fights and tears – I miss that craziness.

Living thousands of miles away from this large family is sometimes a blessing.  When I hear of the different fractions amongst the family, the arguments ect – I don’t miss it.  But when a cousin has a baby and is then married – and the only way I can partake of this is through pictures on Facebook – it’s hard. When I think about celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, remembering the meals at my grandma’s house – and knowing that this year, while it won’t be at the same house but it will be with the same members – I feel lonely, missing that craziness.

I will always feel blessed knowing that I came from a large family.  Yes – I only have one brother (who is often times enough for me – LOL) – I know that within our family – my cousins were a part of my family.

My grandma’s funeral a few years ago was the last time my large Jack family will probably ever be together again as a whole.  Every year there are small reunions – but I doubt everyone will be together again as they were then.  Even though we live so far away, I was able to go home and join with my family to celebrate my grandma’s life and death. It was hard and difficult, even more so now as an adult when I can see the different family dynamics happening.  It was sad to see the fractions, the groups who held in unforgiveness for a word, an action that took place against them. It was hard to experience that loneliness and to watch it affect my family the way it did.  Yet, despite that – it made me believe again in the togetherness of families. That no matter what – you will always be a family. Unfortunately it took the death of the matriarch to bring all the members together.

Families are such a different dynamic.  What about you? Are you from a large or small family?

Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers.

Visit the Muffin www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit www.theresewalsh.com to find out more about the author.