“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life” – Richard Bach
It is one of those days and the frequency is increasing. I have been experiencing a new sensation that can best be described as a hive of bee’s crawling over my legs collecting pollen. The sensation is not of stinking in a painful way but annoying in that way the last moments of the freezing leaving your jaw causes following your dental visit. Between that and the grey weather outside this makes for a good writing day.
I received an article in my news alerts a couple of days ago which was very timely. It was from an Ottawa news source but hit on a topic I had been discussing Saturday evening with a friend, what is family. I think the importance of family is directly proportional to the type of disability you have grown up with.
If you have the ability to self-determine and manage your own affairs you can get by with less family involvement. Persons like myself or Glenda Hyatt are very capable of fighting for our needs, even the ones we shouldn’t have to. We have become use to a world where we have to take certain positions or stances that require a level of cognitive sustenance lacking in many other types of disabilities. The benefit of family support is nice but we can live without it if we have to.
If you live with a disorder that impairs your ability to self-determine the importance of a family cannot be understated. An aging population with developmental factors are dependent on family to compensate for the lack of ability to self-determine. The aging parent care-givers traditionally handle this. Those same families are also recognizing the erosion or privatization of the services they fought so hard for. Who will manage their child’s care once they are gone?
In the 70’s and 80’s there was a massive push by governments to cut back institutional living and involve families in home communities. This decentralization of large institutional care centres to a community based approach put the responsibility on the family. I know too many parents from my mother’s generation who have been the primary care-giver or service supervisor for their disabled child. With that said that “child” is now close to or in their 60’s themselves and that family involvement has been a life time of service.
The conversation I had on Saturday evening revolved around “what is a family”? I have wrestled with that concepts for most of my life. I did a Google “What is family” search and received over 370 million responses, way too many for my purposes so I quickly scanned twenty of the best rated ones to see if I could see a pattern.
One of the consistent themes used in describing a family were the words “home”, “house” or “place of residence”. Interestingly the idea of “blood relative” was absence but the importance of “mutual respect and support” was used a lot. That I could relate to. Continue reading