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Making the mold through family

November is Family Stories Month. People don’t just write novels in November (NaNoWriMo, in case you’re interested). With the holidays around the corner, it is a time of families sharing stories about their lives, their families, their most valued, most treasured memories of the loved ones now gone from their lives, left behind in those long ago places.

Granted, all memorable moments are not good ones, but the person we each become is shaped by the people, the events, the challenges and obstacles, the boogey-men and monsters we have gone up against in our lifetimes. (Such is life. No one gets out of this world without troubles.) Life lessons that teach us things we need to know from cradle to grave, lessons that help us to grow as individuals.

My maternal grandmother was stand-offish, at least I thought so when I was growing up. But the letters left behind tell a different story. During the Great Pandemic of 1918, she left the farm and went to Youngstown for nurses training. She wanted to be a nurse! But in those days, married women stayed at home and raised the children, managed the household. How hard it must have been for her to give up that dream when she and my grandfather married. How sad that I never knew that about her, never asked her about those things that were so important to her.

Another relative was busy handling all the drama of her gaslighting husband, so busy she couldn’t pursue her gifts and talents in fashion design or fine arts, both of which she was very gifted. Her father would not permit it. She would marry a man who would take care of her for the rest of her life, he said. But with her husband, there was always some crisis to handle and the soft hearts of her children were affected in ways she never knew about.

Your grandfather might be able to tell you why an education is so important because he made poor choices that he later regretted and wants to see to it that you don’t go down that same path. Grandparents are a wealth of knowledge and some of our greatest allies when we need someone at our backs. They can do what parents can’t because Mom and Dad have to be authority figures, disciplinary. Or maybe parents are emotionally absent .But grandparents have some leeway to work with. They just might understand things you are talking about.

Your parents may have problems that keep your family, your lives, in turmoil, testing everyone’s patience. Sometimes you may think, “I want to just get into my car and drive off into the sunset,” but you know in your heart that running away never solved anything.

It’s not that we have to fix everyone’s problems. Each of us must “fix” ourselves. It is in dealing with our own problems that we grow. Maybe it helps us to understand Self when we clarify the past, understand the people who populated our individual worlds and had a part in molding the clay that is us, the clay that has been fired by experiences coming thick and fast to make us who we are. Understanding leads to resolution.

You may not be able to visit in person as we go into the dark covid winter, but you can call to check on family members. You can Facetime with them, Zoom with them. Or just talk to them on the phone. Conversation can inspire reminiscing about time long ago … nostalgia … memories.

My late mother called me one day in tears. (She had Alzheimer’s.) “I think we are too close,” she said. “When I die you are going to hurt deeply.”

“It’s OK, Mom,” I said. “Give me the memories. They will get me through those days. You let me worry about all of that.” And so she did. The memories … are warm and loving …There are some not so pleasant memories, but they answer questions.

Family Recovery Center is not just about helping with addiction. “Family” is in the name of the agency because FRC is about helping families to recover. In fact, often the family member comes seeking help first because of someone else in the family having addiction problems. When there are family issues, even those not related to addiction, Family Recovery Center is ready to help.

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Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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