Daily Topic: Family Unity = Family Proximity?

First, this is a sincere attempt to restart my daily practice.  I will continue to journal about personal topics, but I will focus on some thought or current event that catches my attention each day.
I attended a memorial service for the father of a close friend on Sunday.  She and her husband made a roughly 2-hour drive north and I made roughly the same going south.  She has always been something of an outsider in her family where she’s the youngest of three children.  She’s the only one to live a significant distance away and not to produce grandchildren.  I went largely to be a resource for her.
As I watched the interplay between her, her siblings and extended family who attended; I began to wonder about the influence of simple proximity on family ties.  If early bonds with family members are strong, then later dispersal will have less of an effect on those relationships.  If not, those “remote” family members become more and more isolated.  They are blamed for not maintaining those relationships and marginalized.
I experienced this myself.  When my ex-husband and I were assigned to the various Army posts, his family visited only once.  My sister and my dad never visited.  My mom visited multiple times, but our relationship has always been close.  Once we’d moved “back home,” I was expected to make and coordinate my plans to everyone else’s schedule.  I was expected to do the driving and the compromising based on a multitude of justifications.  The dominant ones being that I wasn’t raising children, wasn’t running my own business, and was either “used to travel” or “taking my turn.”
So, how do you respond if this is your role?  Initially, I conformed and quickly wished myself back to being “too far away” to get involved.    Apparently, I am also Switzerland.  As a neutral party, I wound up explaining family members to one another and trying to maintain detente.  The emotional demands of this position were/are such that I don’t maintain a lot of extended family relationships or friendships if the other party doesn’t make an equal effort.
The exception to this rule is of course that I believe in doing the “right” thing.  For me, the right thing is an ethical choice:  Do my actions reflect the person I want to be and the things that I believe in.”  Under that rule, proximity isn’t as important.  But literal proximity does affect the amount of time family spends involved with one another.  Distance and detachment do reduce family ties.

What do you think?

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