A Closeness I Can’t Relate To

Our pastor and his two adult children have built houses almost within spitting distance of one another, and that seems to work well for them. My daughter’s in-laws are living with them, and I assume that’s working out okay. I can think of several couples who’ve moved to be closer to their grown children, and they’re undoubtedly thrilled at being that close.

I definitely don’t mean to sound critical of any of those situations. I’m simply admitting that I don’t understand that kind of family closeness because I can’t relate to it.

I grew up an only child, and my parents reared me to be fiercely independent. They soon realized they’d exceeded their expectations. After college, I lived about two hundred miles from my parents for sixteen years, and I didn’t move to Richmond to be near them, but because that’s where I’d finally found the kind of job I wanted at the place where I’d long wanted to work–the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I didn’t normally see them more than once every couple of weeks and rarely talked to them on the phone. We loved one another, of course, but they had their lives and my wife and I had ours.

I suppose my lack of understanding of the situations I described above is based in part on thoughts about the summer when my first wife and I realized the sales job I’d just gotten wasn’t going to work out. We ended up driving nine hundred miles to spend the rest of the summer with her family.

I’m not sure that feeling the need to do that bothered me consciously at the time, but I realize now how I sacrificed my independence for the sake of expediency. At least it was only temporary.

Don’t get me wrong. As the grandfather of two little boys and the step-grandfather of another, all of whom live quite some distance away, I regret not being able to see them more frequently. But those two sets of parents have their own lives, and we’re careful not to interfere.

That would be more difficult if we lived extremely close to one another.

I’m always tickled at the thought of couples moving to be closer to family only to have their family move elsewhere shortly after that. I can’t say I’ve known of that actually happening, but it could–and it probably has.

When God said a man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife–I’ve always believed that to be equally true of wives–I think He really hit the God-sized nail on the head. Husband and wife must come first. That seems to be true in the cases I mentioned earlier.

What about you? What are your thoughts on this? How about leaving a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

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The Oldest Living Orphan

Uh, okay.

I didn’t say “oldest living orphan in the world,” now did I?

No, but I’m the oldest (and only) living orphan in my household, and I don’t like it.

Hearing a sixty-seven year old man say that might sound a tad strange, but here are the facts. My father died in 1993 and my mother died fourteen months later. That left me parentless, right?

Of course, if you want to get technical, the word orphan normally describes a parentless child. But why shouldn’t it apply to anyone without parents–without regard to age? After all, we’ll always be our parents’ children, even when they’re gone.

And suppose that older man doesn’t have any siblings. And almost no relatives left on his mother’s side; he only hears from them when and if they think to let him know another family member has died. And the relatives on his father’s side are so distant he doesn’t know how the ones he has connections with on Facebook are related to one another. Or to him.

I used to say that if I ever remarried, I could only marry someone who didn’t have any close kin. Having in-laws I felt close to would have seemed too strange.

As things turned out, my wife, Kathleen, still has a full complement of living relatives. Her parents–though quite aged–are still managing on their own, and she has two brothers, sisters-in-law, and a good variety of nephews and nieces.

They’re all fine folks, and I’m glad to know them. I appreciate them. I even like them. A lot.

But by no fault of theirs, I still feel like an orphan at times.

What do you say? Does this make sense? Can you relate to what I’m saying? Please share a comment if you can.


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,