Monday, June 18, 2007

Family Loyalty (Part 1)

When I was a child, my father taught us (I have two siblings) that family loyalty was the most important trait there is. He was the youngest of four brothers and he idolized his older brothers.

Growing up, I never tired of hearing stories about how my dad's brothers were wonderful athletes, how well they did in school, how popular they were, how many offices they held and so on and so forth.

My dad has been dead for 18 years so it is impossible for me to ask him when he stopped--idolizing them, that is. What I do know is that he and his eldest brother were the only ones to attend college.

After college, my uncle moved to North Carolina, married someone outside of his family's faith, and rarely returned home. It wasn't because of my grandparents' attitude toward his wife; they were very accepting. All these years later, I wonder why my uncle abandoned his family.

My dad's second oldest brother was captured in World War II and may have been a hero but wasn't very successful once he left the service. He was unemployed for many years during the great Depression. His never seemed to find his path after that although he worked steadily in low prestige jobs, remained married to the same woman, and had three children.

I don't know very much about my dad's third oldest brother. After he died, I heard some unpleasantries about him from my cousin--his son. I don't know why my dad once admired this brother although I do know that Dad loved him.

One of my father's favorite books was My Glorious Brothers by Howard Fast, which is the story of the Maccabees. I won't bore you with the history but the short version is that they were a priestly family of Jews in the 2nd Century B.C. who organized a successful rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes in Palestine and reconsecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem. They are responsible for Hanukkah but that's another story.

It wasn't the history that made my father love this book, however. To me (and to him), it was the most amazing story of brotherly love. While John was the oldest brother, and Simon was next, Judas was the kind of brother everyone admired...strong, brave, loyal, fearless, and courageous. In Fast's novel, the other brothers are Eleazor (who is known for his strength) and Jonathan (who is known for his brilliance).

(to be continued)


marie said...

I am new to your blog. This post touched my heart in so many ways. My dad also taught me and my sibling about family loyalty. Lately however my sibling has seemed to have forgotten this very important value. That is one of the many things that saddens me.

My sibling is with someone who has totally disrespected the entire family. He has chosen her over us. It is my sincere hope that someday we all can function again as a family.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marie,
Thanks for writing. After I posted this, I thought that maybe I shouldn't have. I'd kind of written about the same topic awhile ago--in a different way.

I realized that I wrote it because it was Father's Day and I missed my dad. I'm having sibling problems as well. And it was the combination of missing my father and being so disappointed with my siblings that promoted this.


Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Wow Susan, your post has the making of a terrific novel. You left us hanging at the end of the post that we can't wait for the its next installment. God has really blessed you with the gift of writing. Keep up with it, especially inspirational ones.

Your father's loyalty to his family was truly amazing. In these times of broken and disunited families, his filial attachment to his siblings is truly heartwarming.

I feel that you also inherited your father's commendable trait and has practiced it to your own family as well. Family loyalty by each member will keep the family stronger, more united and able to weather whatever storm that will come its way. I could hardly wait for the next installment of your beautiful post. God bless you more with all the good things in life.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mel,
I appreciate your comments. Sorry to tell you that as an adult, I don't agree with my father. It worked for him but hasn't for me. That's what my next post will be about. I hope you're not too disappointed.

Also, while I appreciate your other comments as well, I just want you to know that I'm Jewish and I don't pray to Jesus. But thanks for thinking of me.



I read your first installment with fascination. My parents, both Jewish, told me stories that were based upon such strong family ties. Unfortunately, my manic-depression put such a wall between me and family, plus being gay in the '60s on up, that we never could re-gain what really never was. With medication and counseling, I look back and have gotten over any guilt or anger. I've acquired compassion for others in the clutches of mental illness.

I think you did a good thing by writing this post. I, personally, cannot be disappointed in whatever you reveal, because it will be the truth.