June 6, 2012
I think I can honestly say that I never fully appreciated the value of family until very recently, when my own experienced a terrible tragedy and near fatality. My mother died when I was 17 years old, after a three-year battle with leukemia in its most wicked form. Since that awful time, this event has been the second-most frightening I can recall. My perspective on life, death and family as a teenager was much different from the one I have now. I’ve lived long enough to get the value of all three.
It’s been both gratifying and uplifting to see how our family has pulled together, each one of us doing something to make the whole thing work for as long as it’s going to have to. Yes, as we’ve each made our own ways with families, careers and children, it can sometimes feel as though we’ve drifted so far apart we could never pull together if we had to.
And then something like this hits, and it’s as though we were all made to do just what we’ve done: mobilize, handle, comfort and yes, even laugh.
I’ve made a pretty good living over the years writing about families and family dynamics. I can poke fun and find humor in the weirdest situations, because families are big, messy, real-life soap operas with an outlandish spin on them, and everybody gets family humor. The comedy never gets old, because families are always going to top the last holiday or reunion or wedding with behavior that turns into stories that will be passed on for generations.
It’s my sincere hope that everybody gets the other good stuff about family, as well. It’s even better than the humor; it’s peace.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is eagerly expected in summer 2012.