Written by Bryan T. Clark
Are we really past the half way point in 2018? Where the heck did that first part of the year go?
Last month I turned thirty; okay fifty…-three-ish! For the first time in many years, I spent my birthday with my family. My husband Brian barbequed and mom made my favorite cake, a homemade German Chocolate cake. She still makes her cakes from scratch. It was a relaxing day with the six of us hanging out in the pool and just talking.
The day was not all that different, (except for the pool) than when I was a kid. Coming from a large family, our weekends often turned into a party. The men took to the backyard to tend to the grill and drink beer while the women chatted and laughed in the kitchen as they prepared side dishes and desserts.
When I got bored with the stories the guys were telling over and over again, I would wander into the kitchen and spent a little time with the ladies. Their conversation was always better; no drama, just sharing the best gossip reserved for Sunday BBQ’s.
As a family, we all came together weekly to enjoy each other’s company. It was a tradition that I’m not so sure continues in people’s lives today. We are a nation of drifters and transients, moving our families where ever the jobs take us.
Today, my birth family is transcontinental; we are spread out from California to North Carolina, and everywhere in between. It is rare when we are all in the same room these days. Even with modern technology such as Facebook, Face Time, and any number of other apps that connect us, I often wonder are we truly, really connected anymore?
It seems that ‘family’ today is more by design then by birth. Children have aunts and uncles that are not blood related but love them every bit as hard. We gather just the same, in the parks, and back yards, friends welcoming friends.
In my novel Diego’s Secret, a romantic and heartfelt story, I explore the meaning of a modern family—blended by circumstances, not by choice—and how those complicated bonds add an unexpected richness to our lives. I have included a short excerpt from Diego’s Secret that relates to this issue. After reading the short excerpt, I would love to hear back from you in the comments section where you can tell me what your family looks like today.
Just past midnight, Diego was still awake. He lay across his bed staring at his phone, scrolling through pictures of his cousins in Mexico sent by his aunt. Though he had left Mexico at age seventeen, there wasn’t a day that Diego didn’t think of his small village of Mezcala in the state of Guerrero. Sure, life was better here, but that place held his family, his friends, and childhood memories of playing in the Atoyac River.
He smiled as he remembered fishing from the bridge of that river with his abuelo, just the two of them. It killed him that he hadn’t been able to see him one more time before he died. Knowing that the entire family had attended the funeral except for him and his brothers, he felt that he had never gotten closure. Maybe that was why he often thought of his abuelo as still alive. Diego would sometimes wonder what he was up to until the realization returned that he was gone.
The memory of his mother’s menudo, cooking on the stove all day, suddenly penetrated his nose, sending a calmness down his spine. Diego listened for sounds from the front room. The muffled noise of guns firing on television told him that Francisco was still up, watching one of his favorite cop shows. Mayra was most likely draped across his lap in a light sleep. Trying to shrug off his loneliness, Diego rolled over in hopes of going to sleep.