Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

We all need Family and Friends

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There are many lessons I have learned throughout my lifetime. I have already expressed my thoughts on some of them – particularly for the benefit of my grand children. If you find them worthwhile, that is a big bonus

The relationships we have

Three generations of Mum’s family

When you realise that your life is coming to the end, there is nothing of importance alongside the relationships we have built throughout our lives.

We do not get to chose our family – those related by hereditary. However, the way they live their lives reflects on us as well. Amongst them we will find many different philosophies that allow us to develop our own identity.

Our identity may alter when we get married as our partner’s family becomes our extended family. These people do not usually influence our identify but are useful as a sounding board for what we believe in.

In my case, I came from a family with a dark shadow hanging over it. When my father was about 10 years old, his mother was killed and his father held on suspicion of murder. This broke the family up and the 4 boys were raised by the elder sister. As a result, I grew up in a relationship vacuum where we only saw Uncles, Aunts and Cousins at weddings and funerals.

On the other hand, I married a woman from an Irish Catholic background where only the family mattered. They remain in contact with each other on a daily basis and tend to avoid the wider world. It was a good parenting combination. As the children grew up, they somehow knew to approach their mother on matters of emotionl whilst they came to me with questions of the wider world.

Those we call friends are those that fit within the upper and lower expectations of the standards we hold for ourselves. When one of these does something that breaches our ethic, they simply are forgotten. It works the other way too. Some move further up the social ladder to positions we do not aspire to and they tend to forget about us. I guess it is a self regulating process – but it works!  We are who/what we are because of these other people.

By the time we reach 40, we realise that we are not likely to change the world … just the relationships around us (e.g. family, friends, school, workplace).

As I reflect on my own relationships, it was heartening to find friends that date back to my teenage years – and they still want to be there for me as my time winds down.

Written by Greg Naylor

16 May 2012 at 9:00 am

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