My father is one of nine children — two died in childhood — the seven surviving children grew up, married and brought forth 21 grandchildren into the world. Those 21 grandchildren have grown up, married and produced, well, I’ve forgotten how many “little” cousins I have, but let’s just say — it’s a lot! And, I shouldn’t call them little, because most of them are taller than me. Out of the 38 marriages in my family, only 7 of them have ended in divorce. That’s less than an 18% divorce rate, which is well below the national average of 50%.
Yesterday, Cheryl and I had the honor of attending my Aunt Ellen’s 75th birthday party. When I was growing up, going over to Aunt Ellen and Uncle Marvin’s house was a great treat. We were allowed to play games and be a part of the adult conversation. Uncle Marvin and Aunt Ellen could even get Santa Claus to show up on Christmas Eve!
Anyway, Cheryl made a comment last night about how little my family drank. A few beers or a couple glasses of wine, but no one got drunk or acted like a fool, etc. For Cheryl, who had been married into a big drinking family prior to being with me, this is highly unusual. Even after our ten years together, she can’t get over how my family joins together in celebrations that don’t end in arguments or someone being a sloppy drunk.
This morning when I went to church, one of the ladies mentioned that if she had to do it all over again, she probably wouldn’t bring a child into this world. She mentioned issues she had with her kids and a few of the other families who had troubled children and she, knowing that Cheryl and I are trying for children, asked me if I was sure that I wanted to bring a child into this world. I smiled and told her that I was sure.
And, it got me thinking about my family. Growing up as a Totsch meant that you could have a good time, but there were standards you needed to keep. You didn’t have to be the star basketball player or the CEO, but you needed to play and work as if you were. To be a Totsch means that when you see someone in need — whether family or friend — you give them a helping hand. Look up the word family values in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of my family.
I don’t know what makes a child grow up to be a productive member of society, but somehow, my family seems to know how to pass it on. Maybe it’s just good genes or maybe, it is the sense of history and family pride that our parents have passed down to my generation and now we’re passing down to our kids.
I just hope that when it is my turn, I figure out of way to pass it down to my offspring.