A few months before my grandfather died, he said to me, “Beth, I’m counting on you make the name ‘Ziesenis’ famous.” He wanted me to fulfill my dream of becoming an author and traveling the world, spreading whatever word I ended up writing about (the topic wasn’t important to Granddaddy).
When cancer struck my family hard this summer, the sick person I love turned to me and said, “Ok, where’s the book?” — adding quickly, “Just kidding.”
But they’re not kidding. My family wants me to keep striving. Of course, they are simply following my lead — I’ve always wanted to do something big. But because I *may* do something big someday, I am allowed — almost encouraged — to live a bigger, more adventurous life.
I get special treatment. Even though the rest of the family lives within 5 blocks of one another and they’re all pitching in to help our family during this difficult time, no one is putting any pressure on me to come home or change my life. I’ve got a “Get Out of Family Duty Free” card because of my dreams and ambitions.
Over the past week I decided that spending November in Europe was a stupid thing to do. I want to be close to my family, and I need to concentrate on my business. So I canceled my ticket to England (no Paris for the 40th), and I booked a ticket for Thanksgiving with the family in Denver…. ahh, but there’s a catch. I asked permission to spend just Thursday through Saturday with the family then head to Vegas with D.J. for his big 50th birthday party.
And my family said, “Oh, Beth. That’s perfect. It’s so nice you can come.” No one said, “Why the hell are you vacationing with D.J. when we need you here?” Again, they gave me the free pass because they think I’m special.
I love this and I hate this. I’m missing the gene that makes daughters want to have babies and live next to the grandparents. All of our lives, it was my sister’s job (and desire) to have babies with family nearby. She dreamed of living in a house behind my mother’s parents. I can remember wanting to live far away for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I told Mom (who despises the color pink) that I wanted to live in a pink house with purple polka dots so she’d never come visit.
I’d love to have the kinds of quiet dreams that my sister has. Hers are attainable. What if all my adventuring comes to naught? What if I never do anything more than maintain a modest little blog and make a living writing other people’s words? Then I don’t deserve my “Get Out of Family Duty Free” card. Then I’m simply a selfish daughter who couldn’t be bothered to be a bigger part of the family.
So sometimes, when I feel like I’m happy, like it’s ok to just live in beautiful San Diego and make my small pool of clients happy and not worry about writing books and making a difference, I remember that it’s my job… my duty… to work harder and make something bigger happen.
By the way, if my family reads this post, I know they’re going to insist that all they want is for me to be happy. But….