04 February 2012

I used to know them.

The Family Portrait, 1988

Like many military brats -- when it was time to settle down -- it was time to find the settled. A good looking crowd -- My ex-wife's family. Third generation Chicago North Shore. The wedding photographer announced the family picture and as my new Irish Catholic relations came from every direction a guest laughed, "When does Rose Kennedy roll out in her wheel chair?"

I didn't think of looking for a family to go with my wife. That wasn't my intent. With hindsight, it's easy to see how I embraced them and became a Chicagoan in short order. Much like moving in the Army - - You quickly absorb everything in your new surroundings or you're screwed.

I was married for 13 years... to my wife and to these people. I loved them very much but after the divorce, except for four people, I never saw or heard from any of them again. In all fairness -- I never reached out. I wasn't sure how. They may have had the same problem with me.

A friend is going through a divorce and I think how sad it is to not only lose your spouse, but their family as well. I lost so many friends in the Army after only knowing them for a year or two. It's inconceivable to me to lose people you know for 13 years. When asked if I knew someone in this picture... I said, "I used to."

8 comments:

ann said...

Life is so strange. The values and connections that seemed to exist when I was a child, do not exist any more. We move too fast to care. So our culture's progress is also, ironically, its demise.

randall said...

Second that.

Anonymous said...

The Facebook generation will not have this problem.

TRVS said...

Thoughtful words on a sensitive subject...I still see my ex-in-laws from time to time and it's a strange ache for something you had embraced as your own but in the end found out they never really belonged to you. And vice~versa, I suppose...

Big Daddy Man said...

I too have a lost branch of family-by-marriage in the NW suburbs of Chicago. I've been married to my (current and hoepefully forever) wife twice as long as my beta wife but my former in-laws still feel more like family than my current set. I think it's because the Lake county, IL branch worked so hard to nurture me and their daughter while my current set assumes (rightly, I pray) that they are dealing with a fully formed adult.

Anonymous said...

yea, i feel that..-Zamb

RulingPart said...

When I make contact with somebody I used to know very well, and if I'm not on my guard, I assume that the same level of intimacy exists, and it doesn't. Usually they feel uncomfortable.

It's sad when you realize that you've lost friends to time.

Makaga said...

A great piece of writing and a great comment thread.
Re: the Facebook generation comment - I think that reading may be a bit off. Facebook has allowed me to remain connected digitally to people I meet through school or work, but I find myself constantly seeing names on my Facebook page that I no longer recall and have to struggle to remember where they 'arrived' from in my life. These nearly-forgottens feel like finding business cards in the pockets of seldom used coats, "Who are you? Where'd we meet?" I guess we used to know each other.