Your most important network

I have written and read many an article about networking.  These articles have pointed out the value of keeping in touch and many of them will also go into the finer points of which networks to focus on and why they are of value.  I am not here today to dispel any of these articles or thoughts, but I am here to point out that there is one key network I read little about and I propose that this network is the most important of all of them.  The most important network is your family.  How you define family is up to you, but let me define family in my sense of the word in the context of this post.

I had the good fortune to grow up in an environment where I knew most of my aunts and uncles on my father’s side of the family quite well.  My dad was the middle child with two older sisters and two younger sisters.  When you add this up I had about 28 in my generation, with 26 of them living to adulthood.  Of these 26, 22 of us lived within a one block area at one time or another in our lives.  The eldest in my cohort was born in 1943 and the youngest was born in 1968.  That gives us a span over 3 generations and the stories and relationships among us are numerous.

As you can well imagine, the enclave has moved on and we are now spread across the country.  I have cousins in Maine, New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida and many other parts of the country.  It is extremely rare that all of us are in the same place at the same time.  The sad part of this is that we most often see one another now in a somewhat sad setting, the funeral of one of us.

This is the context of my post today.  We have lost two in our group so far this year, with one of them being my brother and another being a cousin who passed away last weekend.  It is sad to see one of our family members pass away, but the positive side is that it does provide an incentive for us to gather, greet and reminisce about not only the good old times, but to also talk about how we can continue to stay in touch.

So today I will get behind the wheel and make the 400 mile drive to my original hometown, nestled in the heart of the Midwest in the central part of Illinois.  When I arrive I will see not only the past, but I will also see the present and the future.

Each one of us has a network in our family that we need to nurture and cherish.  Too often I have missed opportunities to gain from this, but today I will not pass up that chance. While we will grieve the loss of one of our number, we will also smile, toast and celebrate the parents and relatives who have made us who we are today.

Take the time to stay in touch with your friends and loved ones.  While it may seem awkward at times to talk with those you have not seen in years, the words will come and the bonds will never be broken.

Have a great day and take the time to connect with your family now while you have the chance.