I don’t know about you, but I’m rather partial to a proverb or two (ooh! that rhymes, doesn’t it?):
“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”, “Every cloud has a silver lining”, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” (oh yeah ladies – SO true!!), and how could I ever forget…
“All that glitters is not gold!” (reference to a previous post of mine – go check it out if you’ve not seen it…it’s quite funny…even though I do say so myself *wink*).
Now, whilst proverbs generally seem to capture a portion of a society’s values and beliefs, I just have to disagree with one of them…
“Blood is thicker than water”
Apparently (according to the eminent Professor Google – he is rather knowledgeable, isn’t he?…or maybe Professor Google is a ‘she’? hmmm…*scratches head and ponders*) it’s derived from the phrase “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” and often used to indicate that the bonds of blood relations are stronger than the bonds between unrelated people – like friends etc.
Pah! Total poppycock! (WOW!, that’s a good old fashioned expression isn’t it?…I don’t think I’ve ever said “poppycock” before – well, I have now!).
Anyway, sorry, I digress. I SO have to disagree on that one.
Because, I bet, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got relatives that only ever come out of the woodwork at funerals or the odd special occasion. And when you do sporadically meet up, you’ll engage in polite conversation, give each other a brief run down on what you’ve been doing for the past 3 years and then struggle for the next 56 minutes to know what else to say, before you give your excuses and make a swift exit.
Let’s face it…whilst they may be nice people, you’ve got nothing in common. Absolutely nothing; other than a bit of DNA and a mutual tale of Great Aunt Doris and the Christmas Day debacle which involved a small dog and a sherry trifle. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?.
But it’s kinda sad really, isn’t it? – the family stuff, that is, not the trifle.
For me, family is about the people you love, who you actually know, who you may spend time with or make contact with somehow. Family isn’t just about ‘blood’ and ‘blood’ most certainly isn’t a guarantee of loyalty. It’s about the people who would do anything for you, who support you, who would drop anything just to help you and you would do likewise in a heartbeat. It’s about the people who accept you JUST the way you are – with all your little endearing idiosyncrasies – and without judgement. Family are those who genuinely care for you and who don’t critique you against their own values, lifestyle and opinions. It’s a reciprocal thing. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter that you don’t share the same colour of skin, the same culture or ethnicity, the same first language or religion, even. It’s about who you love and care for – so here at Broccoli HQ our family consists of related and non-related people…and they’re all really rather splendid.
For me, blood being ‘thicker than water’ totally negates the love, the bonds, the connections we, as human beings, have with one another.
It scorns the overwhelming love and commitment my friends have for their adopted children or grandchildren.
It suggests that the ties and loyalty I have for my friends is less important than someone I share a bloodline with.
I ain’t having that!
I say this partly because when you become a parent of a child with additional needs, you learn extremely quickly who GENUINELY cares. You learn who your TRUE friends are. So too, do you learn who, in your family, you can call upon for help or who will listen, or who know when you need support without actually asking for it – an example of that being my sister, who, with all of her 4 foot 11 inch stature, would have walloped down the door of the intensive care unit and mowed down anyone who tried to get in her way, just to reach us when Hannah was rushed there (thankfully they opened the doors before she tried her Bruce Lee roundhouse kicks – oooh, it wouldn’t have been pretty!). These are the people who you can’t possibly expect to understand what you go through on a daily basis, but they feel your pain, they celebrate your child’s achievements with you, keep you in their prayers, offer advice, are simply just there (maybe not physically) but are there both on the rainy days and in the sunshine. They are the ones who are only a phone call, text or email away. They are the one’s who treat you exactly the way they used to do – even if that means just taking the ‘mickey’ out of you – before your life completely changed forever. THEY are the ones whose kindness, attempts to understand and sincerity you’ll never, ever forget.
THEY are the genuine ones. The keepers.
What it isn’t, is about sending a token card on a special occasion, but not even making the occasional enquiry as to how someone is. It’s not about just being there on the good days or possessing a feeling of drudgery whilst paying the compulsory annual half an hour visit. It’s not about feeling duty bound to invite someone to a gathering….and SO much more. That is, in effect, about obligation, expectation or ritual. That’s tokenism, pure and simple. That’s all. So we shouldn’t give that much thought or attention, if any in fact, as we – special needs mama’s and daddies – need to conserve our emotional energy for FAR more significant things that are happening in our lives.
Hannah has a Grandpa who doesn’t share the same blood. But that’s insignificant to us.
He adores his only Granddaughter…and we adore him. Very much.
He used to amaze us all with his sprightliness up until not so long ago, and I loved listening to him regaling tales of his youth. He’s a fascinating man.
Grandpa is soon to be 95 years old and last year he was desperately ill.
This is a photo I took of Hannah holding his hand whilst he lay in his hospital bed.
I’ll cherish it forever.
For me, it speaks of love. Complete, unconditional love.
It’s a snapshot in time of two beautiful, connected souls.
That day, I knew that Hannah sensed that she needed to try and be gentle with her Grandpa. She has a tendency to be pretty boisterous sometimes, but she knew something was very different that day. Her attempts at tenderness made me want to cry.
Now, Grandpa is home and his face still lights up when Hannah enters the room.
Whilst he’s much frailer and is saddened that he can’t now sit her on his knee, he holds Hannah just as tightly with his adoring eyes and his love and belief in her remains as strong as it ever was.
Somehow, Hannah (at times) seems to sense this fragility. She doesn’t now make attempts to climb on his lap, but sometimes she’ll try and lean against his chair and stroke his face or give him one of her renowned kisses (she can’t purse her lips yet, so you’re pretty much guaranteed a slobbery one!) – But each and every single kiss is treasured.
To observe that love; that awe-inspiring, powerful, mutual bond between grandchild and grandfather makes a mockery of the proverb.
…and it makes my heart melt, because love like that is precious.
So no, ‘blood’ is definitely NOT thicker than water.
Not in our world anyway.
My friend Jackie once told me that the water at her house is very thick…she most certainly has a point!
So that’s all for this post my lovely people.
Thanks ever so much for stopping by and huge thanks for the overwhelming response to my last post “Dog”…through your facebook shares and comments it really felt as if you were celebrating Hannah’s achievement with us and, please trust me when I say, that means SO much.
Until next time,
This post is dedicated to the only Gentle-Man I will ever have the honour of knowing.
A man who’s enriched my life and I’m blessed to know. A man who cared for me as a child, gave me guidance, showed me that being kind is a gift.
Thank you my darling.
Thank you for the love you show to Hannah, your granddaughter.
Thank you for your optimism, for praying every single day for her, for your silent strength, for listening, for your funny stories, for being my friend, for having faith, for believing, for everything.
Thank you for just being you.
I love you Harry. More than you will ever know.