Answers to today’s questions at [email protected].
1. Did you grow up with your parents together as a unit?
For the most part. My Dad died of cancer in 1989 a month before my 15th birthday, but until then my parents were together. Mom later told me that Dad had suggested a divorce when it became clear that the cancer would get him, so we wouldn’t have to watch him die. My Mom wouldn’t hear of it. They had a good marriage.
2. Did you reach adulthood with four living grandparents?
On my mother’s side… only my Mamma who was my maternal grandmother. She lived until I was 25, in the late 1990s. Maternal grandfather died about a decade before I was born/adopted so in the early 1960s. My paternal grandparents… I’m not sure… I think one of them was alive when I was a toddler, but I don’t really remember… I have this faint memory of meeting a strange (as in unknown to me, not weird strange) woman when out shopping, and Mom introducing her as Dad’s mother but I don’t really remember them at all. I think I was about 4-7 years old at the time. I think there was some visiting sometimes during my toddler years, but so few and far between I never remembered/recognized them. But I’m pretty sure I reached adulthood with only one living grandparent: Mamma.
3. Is your extended family a close one or not?
I’m adopted and an only child and I don’t have a spouse, so I don’t have an extended family in that sense. I have cousins, aunts and uncles. Technically, I have biological brothers and sisters but I don’t consider them family nor have I ever met them, or my biological parents.
No, we aren’t close at least on this side. My Mom had two brothers; Mamma and my uncle who lived with her (we always saw them most) are dead, we hardly ever see or hear about my other uncle and my cousins. I do like my oldest cousin (a woman) a lot – whenever we see each other it’s like we’ve never been apart, but the other two are more of strangers.
I’ve never really known my aunts and uncles on my Dad’s side although I remember that they occasionally came to visit when I was small. My Dad had 8 brothers and sisters and we saw some of them sometimes when I was a kid, but they lived a long way away and I guess my parents and them were never close and over time contact stopped. I don’t know if any of them had children/grandchildren. I do know two of Dad’s brothers were sent to Sweden to be safe during the war with Soviet Union and they never came back, instead were raised in a family there. One the of other the brothers lived in Helsinki and one sister in Harjavalta and them we visited like once or twice a year. It was always a full day trip when we went. I remember loving the car rides but seeing the relatives? I didn’t really care about that one way or another. Huh, I think I should ask my Mom about that side of the family! I don’t really remember much, especially about my paternal grandparents. It’d be nice to know if I ever met them! Mostly I remember my Dad’s side from old photos, except for those two live in Helsinki and Harjavalta – them I remember “live”.
Even in the 1980s and before when we still had more or less regular contact, whether that contact happened once a year or more often, we never had “clan gatherings” where the whole family would get together.
4. Does your family have a ‘black sheep’?
I don’t think so but since we aren’t close I would know. My Mom’s other brother, the one who lived with Mamma, was a little weird but I don’t think he was a black sheep. These days I guess he’d be called developmentally challenged, but back then he was just a little weird. Although I might be one – unemployed, chronically ill, unmarried/not in a relationship of any kind, childless, into fannish things. All things that people look more or less down on. But I don’t feel like a black sheep, so I don’t care.
5. What is your first memory of a family member that is not your mother(s) or father(s)?
I don’t have a memory of that, but when I think about it I feel it’s Mamma. Just because we saw her the most – a lot more than anyone else. We visited regularly, and she visited us regularly. I also went over to hers by bike alone or with my best fried sometimes. So it must be Mamma.