I come from what I’d call a close-knit family. And, thinking about it, I think I owe some degree of that to geography.
My mom and dad grew up in the same city. They’re not from the same neighborhood, I don’t think — I’m pretty sure they didn’t go to high school together. But they both come from the same community.
(Mapquest tells me that the homes my grandparents lived in when I was a kid were less than two miles apart.)
This contributed to a cross-familial closeness that I’m not sure is present in families with broader geographical roots.
When I went to visit Stamford as a kid, we would stay with one set of grandparents, but always spend quality time with the other. The grandparents took turns hosting.
There was never a sense — at least not to me — that we had to work to balance our grandparental time, and never a sense that anyone felt left out. It seemed organic: A visit to one was a visit to both.
My parents’ parents also got along nicely. Again, maybe there were subtle tensions that a little kid wouldn’t catch; only my folks know for sure.
But by the time I came along, it was common for my dad’s folks to get invited to events on my mom’s side of the family, and for my mom’s folks to stop by Hope Street for a dinner or other occasion.
This week’s calendar entry features one such occasion — another link in the knot that binds a close-knit family together.
The event, on an unseasonably warm day, was the wedding of my cousin John and his wife, Maria.
John is the son of my maternal grandpa’s brother. I don’t know as he was that close to my paternal grandparents. But by 1974 — seven years after my folks got married — those grandparents were woven strongly enough into the family fabric to get an invite to a wedding on the other side of the family.
Being in a close family has its obligations, of course. I imagine my paternal grandpa might have spent April 27, 1974, working in his garden or washing his car, rather than putting on a suit and going to a wedding.
Still — given the million ugly ways in which dysfunctional families can shatter and wound — it is infinitely better to have the obligations of a close family than the pains of a distant one.
I’m glad to report that John and Maria’s 40th anniversary is coming up this spring. They are grandparents themselves now, and just hosted their kids and grandkids at a family get-together a couple of weeks ago.
My mom and dad were there, too. All these years later, the family ties still exist.