Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meet Me In St. Louis

I remember watching “Meet Me in St. Louis” (on television, I’m not that old) and thinking, what a wonderful way to live. The big house was full of people – three generations as I recall. Neighbors talked to each other and looked out for each other. Doctors made house calls.

It looked fun and friendly.

About 30 or so years ago, I became part of a support group. All women. All about the same age. Some married or in relationships. Some divorced. All of us had kids. None of us lived in that Hollywood version of the 1904 world.

Support groups are based on honest communication. It takes a while to get past the ‘current events’ phase – stuff going on at work, plumbing problems, teenage tantrums or truancy. But you do. If you keep at it. And keep it honest. Eventually we came to realize that our whole society had isolated nuclear families in theoretically self-sustaining units and the ‘villages’ required to raise a child (or sustain individual sanity) no longer existed. Not in modern American cities and suburbs. None of us could turn our kids over to their grandparents or aunts when we needed a break. There were no breaks.

The only solution, as we saw it, was to create intentional networks or support systems. People who would listen and help because they wanted to – not because it was dictated by some genealogical chart. And it was a solution. Not ideal, but functional. It worked.

Their listening helped me realize that one of my sons might need hospitalization. They came over when I learned my mother had dementia. We celebrated when one of us got her graduate degree. Whenever, whatever, we knew there were people in our world who really knew us and really gave a damn.

We live in three different states now but we’re still a group – still an extended family. We have a history filled with laughter as well as tears. We know we can always count on each other. Living far apart, we know enough to make friends in our new locales and find some kind of network to tap into. And never forget each other.

At least once every year, we gather – strengthening with contact the connections sustained by phone calls, letters and emails.

At least once every year, we recreate “Meet Me In St. Louis.”

1 comment:

  1. I agree that we have lost that sense of a "village." I am glad to say I have a core group of amazing friends that I consider my village and I am so grateful for them. .