Keep the family unit strong, united

My mother, Billi, died March 3. On top of being my mother, she was my friend. There is a time as adults when our parents become our friends and not just our parents. It’s the spoils of surviving the early years.

Mom and I talked every day, some days multiple times. We would talk about news items, family, friends, the whole gamut. My sister did the same, and my brother, in part because of his work schedule, a minimum of once a week.

One of the things my mother and I would talk about sometimes is how some families become estranged. Usually that conversation would happen after someone was discovered dead in their home and it was determined they had been dead for weeks, sometimes months. Family members would be interviewed by authorities and they would say they hadn’t had contact with the now-deceased family member for months or longer.

How does that happen? How does someone get so far away from having contact with their family?

We aren’t talking about homelessness. That is an entirely different situation, though even in those situations there are times families come through for each other. This is about families who for whatever reason don’t talk.

I don’t get that. I’ve had disagreements with a family member before and we had a cooling off period, but I was always talking with the rest of the family. Generally a few days go by and whatever it was about is over and done with and life goes on. There are very few things in life (if any) that should result in turning your back on your family forever.

Here at the newspaper we get thrown into the middle of family disputes from time to time when it comes to obituaries (funeral home directors have it far worse than we do). The family who handles all the arrangements will leave out a family member because there was a fight/dispute or argument. The omitted family member will then call and complain that the obituary was wrong and that we need to fix it. It almost always turns out to be an estrangement that resulted in the omission.

It’s hard to find out where the truth lies, but I’ve heard some stories where the reasons for estrangement are so small that, if true, the family seems beyond petty. They didn’t like the wife, he never returned something he borrowed, mom always liked her better …. those are all “excuses” that I’ve been told.

They are one side of the argument, but that is the perspective of the person. Sometimes we hear both sides, and while they don’t match they are equally ridiculous to have caused estrangement.

I’m left to wonder if these families were ever very close. My family is, and nearly all of my friends’ families are close – all to varying degrees, but close nonetheless. I would do anything for my family, and I know my friends would do the same for theirs.

One of my memories of time together as a family was going for car rides when we lived in Caseville. My dad was in the early years of his career and our entertainment was going for rides. We’d sing songs and just enjoy time together (though let’s face it, kids tire of that stuff). We learned that spending time with family is the most important thing in life.

Sunday would have been my mother’s birthday and I would give anything to be able to wish her happy birthday one last time and to tell her how much I love her. I’m the man I am because of her and my dad.

If you have a family issue, get it resolved. Don’t let it fester into something that splits the family. Get your crap together and patch it up before it’s too late.

I am comfortable in the knowledge that my mother knew I loved her and our family is strong because of her. My hope is that everyone can have as strong of a family as mine.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at