What Meaning Does Family Have?
In April, 2019 - while in New Orleans, I visited my first cousin there, who I don't know very well. I had seen her previously eight years earlier when I was first in New Orleans.
I am going to be in NYC for about 5 days shortly. Writing to my three first cousins on my father's side, one explained how busy she was and that she didn't have time to see me. I got the impression that she has a full-time job and has commitments well beyond that. The other two didn't respond to my initial outreach. When I emailed a follow-up, one of them responded saying that she and her brother were too busy to see me.
I have one brother and nine first cousins. One of my uncles came to visit, when I paid the expenses so he and his top student could perform at my first wedding. My grandfather and my aunt came to my Bar Mitzvah and my father's funeral. My paternal grandparents visited my family, prior to their move to Israel when I was 11. A cousin once removed visited me once while on a trip from Israel. I don't visit with five of my first cousins very often because we have totally different lives. They are extremely Orthodox Jewish and I can't relate to that.
I don't remember any other visits where a relative came to see me (besides my son and family visiting when my mother was dying and visiting us since we moved near them in Chicago). I have seen various relatives visiting them where they lived.
For my wife, a Black woman, family is very, very different! There have been family reunions, generally with about 50-100 attendees yearly for over 55 years. We got to most of them. When there is an issue with one family member, most of the immediate extended family are working to try to help solve the problem. When there is a medical issue, my wife calls her distant cousin who is a doctor. Her cousin who is a musician visits us when he comes through town. We've visited one of her favorite (distant) cousins in NYC and she has visited us in Chicago.
It is sad to me that my family, a white family, lacks a closeness, at least to me. I very much admire the caring that my wife's family has for all of us!