I know my relatives, at least in my mother’s side of the family. (I grew up barely knowing my father’s side.) I know my uncle and aunt and their spouses who have become part of our family. I know their adult children who are my first cousins, and their spouses and their children, my nieces and nephews who are now teenagers. I know their names and how thoughtful they are whenever they make a phone call, when they hand me gifts as we get reunited in rare occasions and family affairs. I know their college degrees, their past and present jobs and where they live. I know about some problems they have, some grievances, and some complaints about money, people and many difficult things in life.
I also know little stories we have shared in the long past, when they come over to celebrate Christmas, when we sometimes cook and eat together for the yearly fiesta, when we have salo-salo over pancit during birthdays, or when we go to a far beach for a summer outing. I attended most of the important days in their lives like my cousins’ wedding, and their babies’ binyag (baptism), in which I occasionally invited as a ninong (godfather). I saw them when they mourn over the death of their loved ones; and after many years, when we picnic together every undas (All Saint’s Day) to remember our dead relatives, I see them smile. Those smiles are present in their pictures, as I browse the old and classic photo albums, or their albums online.
At times, I ponder over those facts I know about my relatives. But do I really know them? That I am not sure. Perhaps, I don’t really know them. They have lived their lives in far places and different ways. I see and know them in the family histories we share but I have missed a lot. I was clueless how they have journeyed in their lives this far, what decisions they have made, how they feel along the way. I don’t know much about their wildest dreams, how wide their imaginations are, how deep their contemplation about life. I don’t know how they lived their youth, what mistakes they made and what small successes they achieved. I don’t know their confusions, their doubts, their failures. All I know is that they are the people I see now, alive and living.
As much as they see me as I am with them in our togetherness and celebration, Love, for a moment, has no need for words.
Since their lives are a mystery to me, mine is also to them. So I grew up living my inner and outer life, discovering it in my own journey. Like what my relatives realized in their personal journeys. I have confronted many of the confounding realities adults face, found new insights and lessons, met new people who led me and continue to lead me to my path, stumbled upon the bliss and blessings of living life and striving for happiness in my work, my relationships and my self. I have come face to face with the sacred, with the unknown, and I have deeply pursued a transformed way of thinking beyond the traditions and norms that I once grew up with.
At best, I go on with my life that my relatives are yet to discover, and I am blessed enough to share with them the space of our changing lives. Some of my friends are not as fortunate – they have chosen their life paths far different from their relatives, and they have become black sheep, oddballs, eccentrics and weirdos in their own families. Their stories ring endless opinion wars about God, careers, healthy diets, political ideologies, minimalist lifestyles and segregating garbage. Those family skirmishes exasperated them as they dangerously ignite during nice and small chats in family gatherings and reunions.
My friends have fantastic, life-changing discoveries they want to share with their loved ones, yet they are left disappointed. The ones they love and expected to heed them are not as eager to learn what they have learned. Some of them have relatives who are accepting; others are too belligerent against them or are just plain apathetic and don’t care much. Having exhausted all the means to argue, explain and prove themselves what is right about them and why their relatives need to listen to them, they get tired. Their efforts become futile all the more, and they leave between them the air of suffocating disagreements. I wonder how to deal with such situation. Thus, I look into the lives of my relatives and found a simple and beautiful answer:
When I am with my relatives, I am being taught of what Love is: that when I am with them I can smile and laugh and eat and chat and sing. There is no need to talk about who I am, what I believe or about how I answer life’s big questions. These topics are all useless. I am not here to change them, and neither are they here to change me. When they voice out their thoughts, I accept their minds, and quietly remind myself to listen. They don’t mind what I know. What they do mind however is how much I am present and how I am willing at this very moment for kumustahan, kuwentuhan, kulitan. I am here to connect, to communicate. To relate with my relatives and rejuvenate my relationship with them. While our lives and journeys are a mystery to each other, the answer does not matter after all. They have no need for me to define what Love is. As much as they see me as I am with them in our togetherness and celebration, Love, for a moment, has no need for words.
- Family and Relatives 😀 (maicaolayres.wordpress.com)