Brothers and sisters:
As I was sitting down to prepare to write this article, the latest edition of the Elevator Constructor crossed my desk with “Family is the Heart of the IUEC” arching over the International logo behind the skyline of host city Chicago. This got me thinking about exactly what it means to be a family.
When we are young, someone tells us “you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” When we are children, this is true. We have parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and these days an array of extended step-relatives that form the nucleus of our family experience. We look to these people to define what it means to be us and learn from their example.
As we age through our teens and into our twenties our world expands to encompass those we meet through school, extracurriculars, work and the social circles we form. Most of these people will only momentarily pass through our life. They are like a comet arching across the night sky, great to observe but gone in a whisk. Every now and then we come across a person that so impacts us that the thought of not having them around is heretical. These people become our closest confidants, those we turn to when the world turns against us. At this point our “family” is no longer those we have a blood connection with, it becomes those we would bleed for without a second thought.
In my time as correspondent to this magazine, I have written extensively about my family. I’ve told about the joy of walking my daughters down the aisle, the pride of seeing my son graduate from the same college I did twenty years previous and how my sister made the last wish of our dying father a reality.
Much to her chagrin, I’ve written about my wife. She is by her nature a private person and whenever I write about her I hope I get to the mailbox first. I’ve shared some of our highs and lows in order to let everyone know that life is never Facebook Perfect. She is the reason I will take that 2 AM callback and then turn around and pull cables or push weights all day. She is the reason I get up every morning even when I am so sore I can’t stand up.
She is the reason I am still alive.
We who are intimately involved in the operations of a local can be very passionate in expressing our views about issues we encounter everyday. Be it the latest edict from one of our signatories, an unjustified disciplinary act, arguing over the local’s long term financial stability or attempting to organize a non-signatory those passions can and often do come to a boil.
We expand our individual social circle to include those we work or serve with and their spouses and children. We see them at golf outings, Christmas parties, retiree’s dinners, funerals and the bar before and after (and sometimes during) the meeting. We become fixtures at weekend hideaways, birthday or holiday celebrations and watch the children go from first steps to first dates.
We quietly steal each others keys and give a sick brother a ride home. We give a heads up and tell each other when to duck. We stand shoulder to shoulder and face those that would do us wrong and put a hand on a shoulder in support when the pain is too great to bear alone.
We argue, we fight, we drink, we laugh and sometimes we cry together. Just like a family. We drape the Charter in crepe, say a prayer and together make a final walk, six carrying one.
We are family.
Until next month,
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.