Being the only child to older parents meant I gained the usual gifts given to those in that position. The contentment to be happy with my own company, the ability to relate to adults with a capricious nature which would now make me nauseated at the very thought of it being just two.
However, as I have grown older I envy the closeness of those I see with brothers and sisters with whom the family bond is strong. It may of course simply be the ultimate manifestation of having a hissy fit over something you want but can’t have. That is to say, if I suddenly found I had a long lost sibling I would entirely reserve the right to relish my uniqueness as the only child my parents had.
The fact that my family is small and fairly distant was brought home to me today when I received a call from a cousin called Dianne. In fact, she is no relation to me at all being the daughter of a close friend of my late mother. However, I only learned that recently as her parents had always been an aunt and uncle in just the same way as any blood relatives.
My mother died in 2012 (April) with her sister following some 3 months later. It struck me that these matriarchal figures had been the glue in holding the cousins together. Since the last of the two funerals, I have neither seen nor heard from my cousins despite my efforts to keep in touch with them. It seems we have nothing to keep up in touch now the older generation has gone.
Yet, Dianne – a cousin only in name calls and checks on my welfare regularly as I do hers. So perhaps the same would have been true had I been lucky enough to have siblings. I have a small number of good friends who could not be closer to me if they were blood relatives.
I know that next week, on one of those milestone birthdays you would rather not recognise, I will receive a small number of cards and acknowledgements. My friends and Dianne will certainly be among them. I don’t anticipate any from blood relations.
It certainly reinforces the old saying ‘You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends’