Family is something you can never change. You can choose to be close with them or choose to cut them from your life completely. Or choose something in between. The fact remains that they are, and always will be, a part of you. Not only did they influence how you were raised but you share genetics, which has an impact on just about every aspect of you – including health.
Family has always been important to me. We’ve been through some rough times, especially recently, but I think in the end it’s brought us even closer together. My parents (top right in the above photo) divorced a few years ago. It was hard but my brother, sister and I all knew they weren’t good for each other. And I’ve gotten closer with both my parents since the divorce. It’s still hard at times but I know I wouldn’t want them back together. At least, not without major changes from both of them first!
This past year specifically, though, has been really hard. We lost my uncle Joe (center of the photo with the sunglasses), the youngest of that family, in March 2009. He had a heart condition his whole life, but was healthy and active. He woke up one morning to go for a walk and his heart just stopped. Naturally, it devastated my grandparents and shook me up a lot, reminding me how short life can be just 3 days before I moved to New Zealand. My grandma passed at the end of July and then my grandpa passed the end of April. I know there isn’t much I could have done, but I still feel guilty somehow for being so far away from them. They knew I loved them and I knew they were both ready to move on, though, which helped a little. I also know they were extremely proud of me and liked to think I got at least a bit of my adventurous spirit from them. A thought I’m happy to have myself, too.
I’ve inherited a lot – good and otherwise – from my family. My gluten-intolerance comes from my dad’s side of the family – both photos above – as does the history of heart disease and diabetes. Probably the thin(ning) hair, too. My mom’s side has bestowed me with a history of addictions, cancer, depression and ovarian cysts.
With all that said, though, I would never choose another family. I’ll take the risk of diabetes and stroke to have the love, support and history my family’s given me. Besides, just about every potential health risk I have in my genetics is preventable by living a healthy, active life. To be honest, I think I’ve actually gotten off pretty easy with my genetics.