As I have mentioned here, I have a huge family, composed mostly of people I don't know. Both sides have a long history of disowning members for being the wrong religion, with the result that the only relatives I knew growing up were my parents, my grandparents, and my brother.
My parents and grandparents are all dead. My brother lives in another state. Some cousins have reached out in adulthood. I consider two of them friends, and a few others are cordial Facebook friends. But I'm not used to having an extended family.
There is massive estrangement in Bill's family, for different reasons. So we function as a closed unit most of the time. I have had passing envy of friends with large, close families, but not of their quarrels and demands. It all seemed to even out.
Over the past several months, though, Bill became increasingly disabled by a condition that he eventually needed major surgery for. He is recuperating at home, and he will be fine, but he has other medical issues that retard and complicate recovery. He can't be alone for more than a few hours at a time. I had to go back to work this week, and Ben had to return to school.
Our friends are amazing and we have received many offers of help. But there is a difference between what we can expect from family members and what we feel comfortable asking friends to do.
Things have worked out amazingly well, considering that Ben and I both have demanding schedules. Our shows haven't conflicted so far. I have been able to skip some practices, because my teammates are understanding and it is possible, though not ideal, to perform improv without team practice. Ben does have classes during my work hours, but my private office is only a few blocks from home, so I can run back during breaks, and his school has been closed for the holidays on my job days. So we are managing.
But Bill and I aren't getting younger, and Ben won't be here forever. We are going to need to revisit our policies vis-a-vis help from friends, possibly sooner rather than later.
Read more by
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading