Elaine Corkery Guest Blog – Extended Family
- Posted on Dec 20, 2019
Family is something that I have always had in abundance, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, even a great-grandparent, I’ve been privileged enough to know them all and when I’m home in Kenmare a day doesn’t go by that I don’t see a member of my extended family not mind my immediate family.
When I was born and for a brief moment was the youngest member of our family tree I had two of my great-grandparents and my four grandparents and they were all living locally. Unfortunately, my great-grandmother passed away when I was three so I don’t remember her, when we play the game of ‘the 5 people you would invite to a dinner party, dead or alive’ she is always first on my list, I have heard so much about her growing up and I have a photo of her, my grandmother, my mother and I that I treasure, the photo was taken by chance on a day that my parents ‘stopped by’ at my great-grandparents house before going to a wedding and what was captured was four generations of women from the same family in one photo.
My Nana, our head honcho. As I have gotten older, I have appreciated in a way that I didn’t as a child how lucky I am to still have my grandmother in my life. She is one of my unwavering life supporters and a great source of practicality and comfort in times of need. As an adult with OI I can sometimes forget that the first few years of my life must have been quite frightening at times for my parents and my extended family and the cycle of fractures (which a lot of in early childhood I don’t remember) must have felt never ending, my grandmother remembers it all and when I need to hear it reminds me of how far I have come and how amazing my parents are.
I think the help and support family give each other strengthens the bonds more than we will ever know and what one family member might think is a small favour may mean so much more to the person they are doing it for. My aunt Jenny is my mother’s youngest sister, when I was a child and in hospital in Cork her and her then boyfriend (now husband) were in university there and came to see me most evenings, this meant so much as I was far away from home and we still have a special relationship to this day. Jenny minded us a lot when we were children, in time when she had her own children my sister and I babysat for her and now her sons help me when I am minding my nephews, I love this tradition and spending so much time together and having so many shared stories and experiences has helped keep us all close. Last year for Christmas Jenny gave me a card entitling me to a meal with her, what she really gave me was the gift of her time (which she has always been generous with) which is priceless.
Just over ten years ago I became an aunt myself, Ben and Daniel are my two nephews and even as I am writing this I am smiling thinking about them. I love spending time with them and I enjoy watching and listening to how they see the world around them. Like when my own brothers and sister were children and were taught to ‘be careful’ around Elaine so too my nephews have had to go through the constant reminders of ‘gently now around Elaine’, when Ben was a toddler he took it to the next level and started introducing me to people as ’Aunty Elaine, she have soft bones’. It has been so interesting as an adult to see how these two children simply accept people as they find them, they ask questions out of pure curiosity and they ask my sister as many questions as they ask me just about different things.
I think family extends to people in your life outside of relatives. I have friends who I have chosen to be part of my family, there are my colleagues at work who sometimes see more of me than my family and are there for life’s daily ups and downs and my OI community in the BBS who over time and through shared experiences and supporting one another have become another family extension.
Christmas is nearly here, over the next few days slowly but surely our clan will all start to come together. Christmas has strong associations for people with family, the traditions, presents, events are all linked with the people you love. I am looking forward to going home and visiting my nana, endless cups of tea and catch ups with aunts and uncles, playing with my nephews and spending time with my parents and siblings.