The Ebb and Flow of Family Groups

The Mattson line of my husband’s family is a close group.  My husband’s great-grandmother Agnes Mattson was one of five children.  Agnes was joined by her brothers Edwin, Albert, and Carl.  The oldest brother, Leonard, died as a child.  Agnes’ mother, Wendla Botmaster Mattson Long, was the family matriarch.  When things did not work out, she stepped up to the plate and raised some of her grandchildren.  Agnes’ child, Shirley, grew up with some of her cousins as siblings.  I have seen many photos of the grandkids (Grandma Shirley and her cousins) all together in San Francisco.  This tight bond remained throughout their lives.

Earlier this month, we attended the memorial for Dorothy Mattson.  Dorothy was the wife of Albert Mattson.  Al is more commonly known in our family as Buz or Buzzie.  He is one of Grandma Shirley’s first cousins.  The service for Dorothy was beautiful and was followed by a reception.  The reception was really nice and it was great to see family that we have not seen in a while.

On our drive home, my husband and I had an interesting conversation about the distance generations create.  The younger generations of the family are not as close as the older ones had been.  The younger generations did not grow up in the same household as the older generations had done.  Grandma Long passed away in 1974.  Her grandchildren, who grew up together, really were the ones who got the entire family together on a regular basis after Grandma Long’s death.  Sadly, that generation is now slowly becoming smaller and smaller in numbers.  While the family still talks, it is just not the same as it used to be.

Families shift for many reasons.  I believe that from the research I have done, the biggest reasons for families changing is death and migration.  I have several families in my line that either kept moving west or had children leave the area to move west.  I also have a couple of families where there was obviously a patriarch or matriarch who led at least a couple of generations.

The most fascinating part of this process it that it happens over and over again.  Different generations start their own tight family groups.  It has left me wondering what the next tight-knit family group is going to be.  As I thought about it, I realized that we are already part of it.  My husband and I are a portion of a strong set of siblings and we have just started populating the next generation.

I am also a part of the close family group on my Mom’s side.  My Grandma is the head of the family.  She has five children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  We all love getting together to hang out.  Most of the family get-togethers are missing my immediate family because we do not live in Southern California.  It is not uncommon for my mom’s brothers and sister hangout together at Grandma’s house.  This past Christmas was especially awesome because every single member of the family and their spouses/significant others were all present.

What is the most recent strong family group in your family?  Are you the newest matriarch/patriarch?

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