Love is what makes the world go round – a popular contention that sometimes has me also wondering how true. There are many concepts and misconceptions about it and it can be pretty confusing. People often think they are really in love with someone, but may actually just be in love with love itself! That is, the idea of it. The issue came up during a family time-out and out popped the issue of in-laws (again!), what they define as love and how it is applied in their family relationships.
“Recently, my brother’s daughter was sick,” said one of the guests. “It started at midnight, but before we decided to take her to the hospital, it was almost 2am and she was shivering so much that I thought she was going to die. As I stared at her in that state, I couldn’t stop the free flow of tears down my cheeks. It was so scary! Looking back, I see it made me realise how much that child means to me,” he concluded with a smile. “I mean, she is my flesh and blood,” he added defensively, in response to the look we all gave him. To look at him, you would think him too tough to shed even one tear, not to talk of letting tears flow freely down his cheeks for any reason! “Why wouldn’t I love her so?” he asked. “She is the cutest piece of work God ever made. I hope that when my wife gives birth to a girl, she will look just like her,” he said. “You are a classic example of a good relative, the whole package,” I teased. In these times “Seriously though,” I added. “People like you are becoming difficult to find in this time and age. Too many brothers-in-law do not give a hoot about their nephews and nieces, much less about things like taking the pains to take them to the hospital when needed,” I explained.
“I witnessed a case in a family home not too long ago. A child was ill, vomiting furiously and shaking in the arms of her mother. Everyone around (extended family members) was showing support by offering what help and advice they could. Some were trying to comfort the child, while others ran to get help. But the mother’s brother-in-law stood up from where he was seated close by and left! As if the whole situation was a rude intrusion into his private space. He had been flipping through the newspapers when the baby started to throw up and without as much as a glance at his brother’s child, he walked away. I was so appalled at such reaction that I couldn’t get the scene out of my mind for days. I was visibly shaken by his behaviour. His hatred was clear for all to see,” I narrated.
The whole package
“They don’t even know the meaning of love,” said another of my guests. “You remember that time I was crazy about that married guy?” She asked, looking in my direction. I nodded. “The one you went cuckoo for.” I added, teasingly. “For one crazy moment,” she continued, “I fell in love with his children and their mother… everything and everybody that meant something to him!” She exclaimed, rolling her eyes. “I loved everything about him – the whole package,” she said. “So, tell me why I wouldn’t love my own flesh and blood unconditionally. Do all these in-laws know what it really means to love?” she asked rhetorically. Acceptance my definition of love for a sibling is simple. Love in a family relationship depends on the definition you give it, but when you and your sibling are kindred spirits, you love your sibling deeply and accept whomever your brother loves or has feelings for, regardless. When you truly love and are a kindred spirit with someone, it breaks and melts down every ounce of prejudice, non-acceptance or anything else you may have against the person’s spouse. It is all replaced by tolerance and respect, just for the sake of what you feel for your sibling. True love Loving should be complete. All your squirmy, creepy and disgusting reactions towards your sibling’s heart’s desires will dissolve gradually; if you would just let all the ill feeling you nurse go. You may feel your sibling could have done better with his/ her choice of a spouse, but if you truly love your brother or sister, why not make the effort to get to know their wife or husband better? Is it that you can’t stand the person or that you can’t stand to see your sibling happy?
Living with it
True love transcends all. It is deep and devoid of any sort of colouring. It is when all you care about is the happiness and wellbeing of your relative, even if you feel he or she has made a mistake. Remember, it is their mistake and not yours and it is they who have to live with it, not you. What about the fruit of that union, should they be involved in your ‘hatred crusade’ too? How would you be able to live with yourself, should you end up meaning nothing to your brother or sister’s children? Kith and kin the truth is, whether you like it or not, they have blood ties with you and you can’t change that. When you miss out on their lives, it is your loss and one day, you will bite your fingers in regret. No prejudice is worth throwing away your family’s love over. As my mother always says, “No matter how evil or stupid you think your brother is you can’t change the fact that he is your kith and kin.” Your family members and in-laws are a part of you and you are a part of them. You have to live with it. Don’t sever beautiful family ties over some petty reason you will come to regret someday. Yes, it happens all the time. Keep searching…
It is not too late to make amends. Life is too short to be lived an island. Your brother or sister will always have a place for you when you call. Make that call now and save yourself the misery of a lifetime of separation from loved ones.