In my home office, I have a collage of pictures from my childhood. There’s my dad watching over me, sleepy, but focused on me. My grandfather showing me what winter is like in the Appalachian Mountains, while looking at me with such wonder. There’s my aunt introducing me to the dogs, Trigger and Dixie. My grandfather and uncle showing off the horse my grandfather just bought me and my aunt and uncle holding me and smiling for the camera. Before you get the wrong idea, I was not privileged. I was loved.
The adult relationships in my family were just as complicated as all adult relationships are. The married couples disagreed, they even argued from time to time. But there was never any hitting, spitting or throwing things at each other. They didn’t call each other names, they didn’t separate, threaten to leave or disrespect each other. Through the disagreements and arguments, they loved each other.
The mountains of West Virginia is one of the most isolated cultures still remaining in the United States. They have their own way of doing everything, from the dialect, to the accent to the way they dress, even the way they grow food. It is not a perfect culture, no culture is, because there are no perfect humans. And even though I was raised there, I never completely fit in, and now that I’ve lived in another culture for so long, it would be even harder for me to live there. In looking back and analyzing the personalities that raised me, now I understand that many of those people who loved me so much, didn’t fit in either.
But the reason they didn’t fit, was because they understood something too many humans don’t. Live is not easy, relationships are hard, and there are no perfect people, but the one thing my family got right and taught me, actually ingrained in me; my family knew how to love.