The Tree from Which You Came,
The Stage on Which you Act
Imagine an enormous tree, one with a thick trunk and tall branches stretching out in all directions. On each branch are smaller branches, and on each of those branches are individual leaves. Think of the tree and those leaves as you would a family. Each leaf represents one person, stemming from a common branch, that individual’s parents. That branch then connects to another branch, grandparents, which connects back to the trunk. Great grandparents. The trunk then connects down to the roots. The generations that came before all.
Your Grandma Riley has mapped out Mommy’s side of the family eight or more generations back. I’m working to map my side of the family. One day, you’ll be able to step back and look at the entire tree and understand where you came from, and what your roots are. You might not find this interesting now or in the future, but, it will be there, waiting for you, ready to support you and your children.
That, my sons, is family. Family is a support system. It’s an intricate network of people, connected by flesh and blood, common beliefs, attitudes, and love. Families can be any shape and size, and they expand and shrink over time. Families are often referred to as trees in how they grow, yet I like to compare them to a performance stage. On stages, performers showcase their talents and skills, they demonstrate the range of their voices and emotions. They emulate comedy and tragedy, they give their best and worst performances. You are doing the same within our family. The family is the stage upon which you learn how to act.
As fellow actors on the family stage, I realize how susceptible you are to our emotions and methods. As your parents, we try so hard to be and do our best—to be exemplary role models for you in all that we do, but, we are humans and so we falter. We don’t always give our best performances. It’s amazing how quickly you incorporate everything we say and do, and it’s sometimes frightening how you often know what we’re thinking and how you receive and interpret everything, spoken or not.
For many years, you will continue to act on this small stage of ours. You will refine your repertoire and begin to share it beyond our theater. One day, you’ll move on to another playhouse or music hall. You will bring new performers onto your stage.
And such is the irony of families. Friends and associates you can choose, but family is who you are given. It’s who you are born into, and who comes through you. As time goes on, you may not want to be with your family. You might distance yourself physically and emotionally, either by choice or organically. Such is life and the evolution of all families. But you do have a choice, and that is to choose, or not, to acknowledge, accept, and honor your family. In doing so, your give your love backward and forward in time through the great tree from which you came. As a performer on the stage, you’re helping the show go on, adding to the grand play of life.