Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Random Thought On Blood Ties

On Monday evening when I was walking home from public transportation, a strange thought popped into my mind. Since I am an only child, when my brother-in-law and sister-and-law have children, I will be an uncle, but an uncle who is not a blood relative to the child. I wonder whether my relationship to my niece or nephew will be as close as my wife's relationship to the child since the baby will be her brother's child.

Perhaps my mind is just trapped in a narrow definition of family. Although it is certainly possible to have strong ties with non-blood relatives, or even a non-relatives for that matter, people often feel a certain affinity to others with a shared lineage. It is as if a person can actually "sense" whether another person is "truly" related; a "sense" many adopted children describe they get upon meeting their natural birth parents.

Someday will this nephew or niece sense that I am not "really" family? I guess it is futile to speculate since only time will tell....

18 Comments:

At November 30, 2005 at 6:39:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

I understand what you mean, but ultimately I think it depends more on the relationship than the relation. If a close relationship is developed, they will think of you as a close family relative. At least that is how it works in my family...

 
At November 30, 2005 at 6:50:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

You are probably right...

 
At November 30, 2005 at 6:59:00 AM EST, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear ASJ,

Just to let you know-by way of an encouraging example-I have an Uncle Marvin, who was married to my mother's sister, my Aunt Iris (olav ha Shalom)... Uncle Marvin is therefore my uncle by marriage-not by blood.

However, he has been for at least 46 years an important person in my life; when I arrived in St. Louis with my brother and mom 46 years ago, who greeted us at the airport? Uncle Marvin. Growing up without my dad who was in Chicago but whom I did see regularly-I could always count upon Uncle Marvin who treated my brother and me as his own sons. He led the seder and carved the turkey, and we spent incalculable hours over the years at his house. We have always laughed at each other's dreadful jokes, and just this last weekend, when my mother called him, he rushed over to her house to see me; a bit bent over and seeming kind of 'tiny' if you know what I mean, I looked at him and felt an almost tangible sense of thankfulness that this man has been and still is very much of great importance in my life!

May you merit to be an "Uncle Marvin" whose nieces and nephews will love him like a father! I am,

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

 
At November 30, 2005 at 7:05:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Alan: Thank you for your comments and you warm wishes.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 7:54:00 AM EST, Blogger Mirty said...

I'm in a family where there are actually very few blood ties. My brother's two sons, my nephews, are both adopted. (They look so much like him very few people realize it.) It makes no difference. The love is the same.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 7:56:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Looks like everyone is proving me wrong, Mirty...

 
At November 30, 2005 at 8:17:00 AM EST, Blogger Shoshana said...

ASJ -
I think it's more than just a matter of blood ties. I grew up very far from geographically from any of my extended family, and therefore, I am not especially close with them. But I am extremely close with some of my friends and their children, and they truly make me feel part of their family. I really love and care about those kids (and I am really sad that I have moved away from them where I can't see them every week anymore). To me, my friends and their families have become family.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 8:21:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: I guess I was taking a very narrow view which no one commenting has subscribed to.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 8:55:00 AM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

If you want to take the argument further, just think post-WWII, when the few surviving members of a family linked together. The definitive ties might not have been close (ie. first cousin, uncle, etc.)ones, but "mishpoche" was the operative word and being there for each other was the key.

People even have family friends whom they call aunt and uncle and those people in fact might be closer than related-by-blood aunts and uncles.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 9:03:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl: Kind of like this:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/chaimr/112731119521358947/#24982

;)

 
At November 30, 2005 at 9:18:00 AM EST, Blogger torontopearl said...

Hey, ASJ, you're good... (you knew EXACTLY where to find that earlier comment of mine) Well, I guess I've made my point.

These formal familial titles (aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.)are just nouns, it's what you do while wearing your title that makes the difference!

 
At November 30, 2005 at 9:22:00 AM EST, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I have to agree with the others, blood is not what build ties between people.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 9:56:00 AM EST, Blogger A Frum Idealist said...

Without question, family has more to do with love than with blood.
Look at adopting or foster families. They have no blood connection whatsoever, yet they are the family and lifeline of that child.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 10:26:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Pearl, Jack, Frum Idealist: Thanks for your comments.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 2:16:00 PM EST, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

That's my mother's favorite phrase: blood relative.

"Do you enjoy seeing your sister's children, Markie? They're your blood relatives."

They may be my blood relatives, but I know that they love their Uncle Michael, who is related by marriage, a heck of a lot more than me, because he lives near them and plays with them and they run to him for hugs. And for me, a shy peck on the cheek at their mother's insistence.

It's nice to recognize some genetic features in your kin, a shade of hair color, the shape of a mouth, but ultimately it's how you relate to them, not how you're related to them, that will matter.

 
At November 30, 2005 at 2:22:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: I must be an old soul if I remind you of your mother ;)

 
At November 30, 2005 at 4:17:00 PM EST, Blogger Alice said...

I think there is a kind of genetic connection/recongition that exists only with blood relatives, and it does seem that this phenomenon is uniquely capable of inspiring people to build relationships with one another. This seemed to me what you were describing. Perhaps it inspires people to try harder if they have difficult times with family relationships. In-law and step relationships can seem more "optional".

It seems to me a beneficial thing, but very insignificant in relationships compared to the role of free choice. And of course, in a different way we are all "truly related".

 
At November 30, 2005 at 8:20:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Interesting thoughts, Alice. I am glad at least you see my point! ;)

 

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