Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, Sr.), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had a dream, when I was younger, that all families were like the ones I watched on television: Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and most importantly, The Waltons. Everyone always got along, the siblings were close, sure they bantered back and forth but I could just feel the love between them and the mutual admiration they had for one another. I grew up thinking that life was fair; good people got good things and bad people got what they deserved: punishment. Life was about giving and taking, things always worked out in the end, or so I thought.
I certainly don’t believe in that as much as I used to, hell, I’m not sure I believe in it at all. There are too many bad people getting away with too much horrible crap and too many good people are given way too much stuff to handle that they don’t deserve. Think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of a few, truly good and kind people who don’t deserve what they have and a few unkind, bad and selfish people you wish had more of the same, negative karma that they give out, if only to teach them a lesson or two. Does it happen often? No, it rarely happens if at all.
I know I started my youthful fantasies, back when there was a Santa Claus, and an Easter Bunny and if you had a bad day, the next day was a promise with a kiss to be better. It was a world when moms and dads could tell you things and you believed them in your child-like innocence. Parents weren’t flawed people, they were just, well…parents. Apparently, life is not based out of old episodes of a television series. Reality hit me when I was an adolescent and those innocent years of childhood ended abruptly.
Families, like The Waltons all lived together in one big house; sure they were poor but they all got along and loved and trusted one another, three generations living under one roof. We can’t even have a dinner with the “adults” in my family before someone’s childish drama and selfishness rears its dysfunctional head, loudly and inappropriately, within a matter of minutes. At my mother’s birthday celebration, one member of my family made it all about her. I wasn’t shocked or surprised it happens that way all the time. I just shook my head, looked at my poor husband who had just been delivered a stern lecture and saw his flushed cheeks and his bewildered, hurt brown eyes; he was very upset. After that, just looking at his body language he had checked out. There’s always one victim, usually it’s me, now it was both of us, but I don’t feel defeated anymore, I just felt disgusted.
Here is what I have learned: people do not change. The most “enlightened” sounding people can be the most disturbed and do not know themselves at all; they need professional help. As much as we are all in this together with our friends, family, neighbors, ultimately, we are alone. We are born alone and we will die alone. The most important thing to have is strength in yourself. We all need that wisdom and courage it takes to go to bed and wake up the next day knowing that even though it is hard to put one foot in front of the other, we have no choice but to continue. That even in uncharted territory we must force ourselves to go on and that family is not necessarily defined by blood lines but by goodwill, caring, kind, well-intentioned, love. Pure and simple. Love should not be that complicated, and if it always is, there is something very, very wrong.