Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family Bonds

Love makes people ferocious. ~ Michael Mead

My family tends to go through dramatic events in pairs. First there was a sister and a brother who were both hit by cars when they were teenagers. Both were pedestrians about the same age and needing to change the life course they were on when it happened, both sustained broken legs which required surgery and hardware, and both went on to live with an older sibling after their long recoveries.

When one of my niece’s was fighting for her life due to complications of pneumonia, a nephew was coming into the world under emergency duress. And of course losing my brothers, Jim and Dan, four years ago was the epitome of a family pattern of tragic symmetry. Their deaths paralleled and intertwined as though a plan was unfolding.

Earlier this week, another unbelievable family story unfolded in a synchronistic way. It started when I received a shocking email from my sister, Kathy (who has also blogged about this), telling me that our youngest sister had a grand mal seizure and was in the hospital. It was not her first seizure, but the last one she had was 13 years ago, incredibly…on the same date as this one. Her two young sons, heroes of the day, were with her when it happened. The six year old called 911.

Later that day, a second shocking email arrived in my mailbox. My mother and sisters were with my youngest sister in the hospital when a nurse came in and asked if they knew Robert Redman, my father! My father had been in a car accident, and the nurse did some detective work after he told the hospital staff when he was admitted that his daughter had a seizure earlier in the day and was in the same hospital. One was in room 12, the other in room 21.

My sister is home now and doing well, but my dad is still in the ICU. Although he is expected to recover, I can’t help but think of Jim, who was killed in a crushing industrial accident, when I think about the impact that my father endured. And I can’t help but re-live the experience of being with Dan in the ICU the last weeks of his life when I hear the ups and downs of my dad’s daily progress. Emails and phone calls between family members are flying across the air waves, nerves are raw, and tears are on the surface, just like those last weeks with Dan.

Blogging can also be a vehicle of synchronicity. On the same day, I was held in the grip of this family crisis, my blogger friend, Lu, unknowingly reminded of the strong bonds and love I have for my family. She had recently read my books and then reviewed them on her site. Here’s what she said about "The Jim and Dan Stories."

"As much as this book is about colleen and her family and their tragedies, it is about my family and your family and anybody's family, it's about unconditional love and bonds that can’t be broken, its about memories and legacy, it is about the human spirit."

Thanks, Lu! It seems that the story goes on…and so does the strength of the human spirit.

Post notes: Family events occurring in pairs aren’t only those of a tragic nature. After the first 5 of us were born, the last four came in sets of two. These are the last two of the 9 Redman siblings in the early 1960s. They were inseparable at the time this photo was taken, and we could barely say the name of one of them without following it with the name of the other. This post was originally posted on in 2005.

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