How often do you see your aunts and uncles?
If like me you’re grown and out of your home town, you probably don’t get much facetime with these people, even if they were a bigger part of your life when you were younger. I see some of my aunts and uncles only once or twice a year.
That’s not much time, and that’s not much time left, either. As Tim Urban points out in his well-known essay “The Tail End,” most of us have already spent the vast majority of the time we’ll ever have with our parents.
One line that really brings things home:
“It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.”
If this is the case, I’m definitely in the tail end with my aunts and uncles. That should shift my priorities around extended family a bit. I spent most of my first 23 years receiving care and love and affirmation from these people without offering a whole lot of curiosity and support back.
What motivates these people? What makes them interesting? What do they have to teach? These are questions I’ve hardly started to ask, but the urgency of our dwindling time makes them even more worth asking.
I found out that one uncle was a proficient runner in his youth, putting in tremendous mileage times. We even ran a 5K together this past Thanksgiving.
I found out that one aunt was the only child in my father’s family to vagabond across Europe. We bonded over our shared interest in adventure, and we’ve also enjoyed similar tastes in interior design.
These extended family members have become friends, rather than just relatives. And I intend to enjoy these relationships and go deeper in the time I have.
What about you? How many more great relationships might you be missing out on? And how many more chances will you have to really deeply know these people who are so close to you as your aunts and uncles?