I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
In case you have been living in a cave or don’t watch television, I am going to update you on a cultural phenom that launched in 2016, called This Is Us. The timeline drama features the lives of the Pearson Family which consists of the matriarch and patriarch Jack and Rebecca who met and fell in love in the 1970s following the Viet Nam War. Jack is a vet with clear signs of PTSD and alcoholism and a desire to overcome both. His father was an abusive alcoholic and his brother Nicky was more of a target than he was and Jack’s protective instincts kicked in and when his little bro was drafted, he followed him into the war zone as an on-going protector. Their interactions ‘ in country’ shaped the future of the family. Fast forward and full to bursting pregnant Rebecca who is carrying triplets, gives birth to two healthy children named Kate and Kevin. The third child who they planned to name Kyle, dies before he sees the light of day. At the same time, a newborn is brought to the hospital by a firefighter who finds the little boy after his addicted biological father leaves him there, trusting that he will receive the good care that he is unable to provide. Jack sees this child next to his in the nursery and convinces Rebecca that he was meant to be theirs. Thus Randall becomes a Pearson as well, joining what the family calls ‘The Big Three’. Early on in the show it is known that Jack dies when the children are 17. Viewers are left to wonder under what circumstances.
The show meanders back and forth between pre-70’s to the 2000s as the characters evolve. Common themes are addiction, secrets, death, relationships, politics, infertility, sibling competition, eating disorders…a veritable buffet that has viewers crying, laughing and nodding knowingly as they attempt to unfold the mystery of it all. Although I don’t watch much tv, except at the gym, Tuesday nights at 9 pm is sacrosanct as I curl up in the recliner with a blanket around me, prepared for all the feelz.
As I watched the fall finale last night, it occurred to me that my life is a series of events that have me flowing back and forth as if they were happening in the here and now. It is November 28, 2018, and 1o years ago, I was in Florida for my mother’s funeral following her death on 11/26/10. The tears I shed were those of grief and gratitude that she had given birth to me, loved me into adulthood and taught me how to live without her. Hard to imagine that she wouldn’t be here in body to guide me but she is very much with me on a daily basis as we have our chats at all hours. She comes to me in dreams and waking moments. I wear her ring on my pinkie that was given to her by my grandmother. It is like having both of them around me.
In the same time frame 20 years ago, I was accompanying/companioning my husband as he made his exit. In the ICU with him for 5 1/2 weeks from 11/11/98-12/21/98 on life support, while awaiting a liver transplant that never occurred, my life seemed to be in limbo. It wasn’t until afterward that I marveled how I got through it.
I reminisce about college friendships and a few year stretch of working in a crisis intervention center where I put into practice my Psychology 101 training at school. Blessedly, most of these people are still in my life and have become family of choice. Some of our group have died, some experienced serious illness and lived to tell about it. Some are still with their partners, others divorced, separated or widowed. Some are parents and grandparents. Most have remained in the Human Services field.
I dive deeply into memory of past romantic partnerships, blessing them all for being with me to help me grow and get to know myself.
I ponder my childhood, mostly with delight since it included a close-knit family, bunches of friends, activities, and a clear trajectory toward success. My parents taught me that I could do whatever I chose professionally as long as it made me happy and I could support myself. My resume is several pages long as I have always had multiple over-lapping jobs.
I look at all of the ways I interact with people on a daily basis; talking, listening, hugging, storytelling, co-creating, networking and add those activities to the emotional soup in which I splash about.
I fast forward and imagine a future that includes speaking/teaching and writing as I travel worldwide. I see myself in loving partnership. I view myself as healthy and strong. I fulfill my desire for being a greater force for good in the world.