“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” –George Bernard Shaw
Our friends recently had a litter of puppies. The runt was several pounds smaller than her thriving littermates. She struggled and fought several times each day to get a piece of spare nipple while her mother was willing to lie still. Her mother’s patience with the greedy pawing, and scratching never lasted long enough for the undersized pup to get her fair share of milk.
Her littermates were rambunctious and even a hazard to the pup’s safety. Once during feeding time the entire litter raced down a set of stairs in a mad scramble of fur and limbs, knocking the runt off of the steps. She landed on the ground several feet below, unresponsive and with blood at her mouth. She was rushed in a panic to the vet where it was confirmed she had broken a front leg. The vet instructed she rest and stay off of it as much as possible.
She was separated from the rest of the litter and she was miserable. Her yips and cries filled the house. Our friends’ efforts to keep her isolated proved futile when she was caught breaking out of her confinement repeatedly. Once out, she limped around on her cast, provoking the other, much larger pups into wrestling matches. My friend Kim threw up her hands in surrender and finally said, “Fine. Go ahead and wrestle. But no more than two at a time!” This was said as the runt was buried under a pile of biting, chewing, tugging, mauling littermates. This puppy grew into the scrappiest dog in spite of, but also because of her family.
And so it is with a large family. Even when our loved ones may hurt us in their individual drive for survival, we long to be a part of it. We can’t help it. It’s how we grow and it’s who we are. Sometimes my siblings had the best of intentions. Sometimes they didn’t. And like the runt, I can’t leave it alone. For better or worse I am who I am because of my large family. And maybe a little bit in spite of.
Thank goodness for our large families and everything out aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters brought with them.