Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Family Values

I was talking to a friend this weekend about family values and how we carry them. Sounds like a crazy thesis paper, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. We were just struck by how no matter how hard we try to be our own selves, there is a part of our selves that has been inherited and formed from that lineage we call family. I personally get a tickle from my family heritage. While talking to my friend, I realized there are 3 defining qualities that each member is measured against.

First, work ethic. I come from hard working folk who believe that as long as you work tirelessly, you can die with a broken body and be proud. Stories roam the family legends of Uncle So&So who worked every day of his life until he was asked to retire. Poor bastard died 3 days into retirement because he had nothing better to do.

Yep. I can honestly say I picked up the work ethic. Couldn’t help it. If I count the number of jobs I have right now the answer would be 3…maybe 4. There is the st@te job working 40 hours, there is the mental health job were I work 21 hours a week, plus sometimes I pick up hours working for a farmer that I know. Yeah, I can check farm hand off my list of jobs I always wanted to try. Oh, job 4 is the music company I used to work for traveling out of state to sell music at shows. They keep asking me to travel and sometimes I do. Of course, I’m not working hard for the sh!tz and giggles in it all. There is a point. I want to move out of this town. I want to move to London. I want money to blow on road trips and beer.

Second, burial funds. Yeah, really. Apparently everyone in my family has burial insurance – even me. It’s just bad manners to die and have no money to pay for your own burial. My Pop told me once that he made sure each of us kids had burial money within the year that we were born. He may not have had the money to send us to college or pay the dentist for that matter, but he was certain we’d die respectable. Hell yeah, Dad.

Personally, I’m not sure what to do with the burial thing. It’s not like I can use it on a date or anything. When I die, you can burry me outright. No passing around the jar to pay for the embalming. No dipping into the Wake Beer Fund for this GoGo. I own my death outright. Holla. I think my Dad would be pissed if he knew I was callous about this concept. I do admit I kind of feel proud that there will be no potter’s field in my future, but still it’s not a selling point for qualities.

Third, military service and/or children. Yeah, I’m a part of the Americana fabric where community service included an obligation to die for our country. You’re respectable if you served, even if you come back mentally mangled and with a tendency to drink to keep the memories from swallowing you. As a woman, apparently I have an opt out option as long as I then proceed to produce a child enlue of shooting someone. And if I have mentally mangled dude’s baby even better!

This is a sad one. I totally get the idea of honor and community service. Honor and courage are the selling points for the military. No questions asked, a soldier goes into a war zone and defends the USA, ze’s a respectable person. Except, I fell off the military bandwagon a long time ago when I made the mistake of asking the question, is there ever a good war? I don’t want to kill my neighbor. I’m not producing children to skip out of military service either. Just not happening. I get a kick out of my family though because they can register I am gay, but not that I would never go into the military. My Aunt once said to me it was sad that I was sooo obviously gay because I couldn’t even go into service with the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. She never asked me if I would join the service and I didn’t tell her I wouldn’t.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Great post! So often lately I find myself saying "I have become my mother".

In terms of the burial thing, I always say I'm going to have myself stuffed and seated in a chair next to my ex's fireplace..LOL!