I don’t have a family member that I dislike, neither in my immediate family nor into the directly extended family of Aunts, Uncle-in-laws and cousins. All my grandparents are now dead. I didn’t dislike any other them either. Though there are certainly family members that it’s easier to spending time with.
I used to really like hanging out with my Nanny (Mum’s mum) for example. For most of my life she lived alone, in one of a number of places between Burleigh Heads and Southport in Queensland.
I used to go and base myself at her place once a year or so. From there I’d visit other family up that way: my grandfather and his new family in Tweed Heads, or my Aunt and cousins in Murwillumbah. Nan typically had a very busy social schedule with things like bridge club or her part-time jobs, so it used to work out well. When we were both home she would beat me at cards or backgammon or anything else we played or we’d watch TV game shows. She was usually in bed by about 8pm.
Sometimes we’d go out to visit some of her friends that I’d known for years, or to the movies and have a meal. She liked fish and chips. Once I got her to agree to see a James Bond movie because Pierce Brosnan was in it and she thought he was handsome.
I didn’t enjoy spending time with my Nanna (Dad’s mum). She lived alone too, my Grandpa died when I was very young. Nanna was a chain smoker and an alcoholic and I don’t have any memories of doing anything fun with her. Later on she moved into a pretty shitty public nursing home.
But I didn’t dislike her. I barely knew her. Spending time with her felt like an obligation rather than something enjoyable to look forward to, and I suspect that’s partly because that’s how Dad thought about it too.
It’s a very Catholic thing, obligation: go to Mass, say your prayers, confess your sins – there are so many things that you’re supposed to do, accompanied by guilt, whether you do them or not.
Having rejected the Church and everything that goes with it (one of these days I’ll get around to getting excommunicated) I’ve also let go of the idea of obligation and have embraced the idea that I choose to maintain relationships with my family. Some of them I would like to see more, some I see just about the right amount, but I don’t dislike any of them.
And if I did I wouldn’t spend any time with them at all.