"The family should be the safest of havens in an often heartless world, but sadly, too many people are locked out of its affections. Being the member of a large family offers a comprehensive safety net that neither money nor privilege can ever buy. Families are constructed from too many parts ever to be whole unless they stand together through thick and thin. It is not flesh and blood that binds us as one, but the heart and course of the blood that flows between kith and kin.
Being the eldest of seven children, born of Irish parents into a working class background where money was always less than was desired, but as much as was needed, I soon learned the main differences between large families and small; the main difference in having six brothers and sisters instead of none at all.
I know that larger families tend to talk more loudly then smaller ones do. Often in some social gatherings, when my family of brothers and sisters are having a gentle discussion, strangers, as well as my sibling's marriage partners, will often consider us to be rowing or on the edge of blood spilling! Nothing of the kind! Socialisation is the reason for difference; nothing more and nothing less! Being brought up in different family structures simply leads to us learning about similar things in different ways.
All it takes for one person to be quieter and more conventionally polite than another, is always to have had plenty on their plate and to never know hunger. If a parent places food on the table sufficient to feed four or five children only when seven are seated around it, believe me you'll soon learn to shout, or as we say in the Forde Seven, 'make oneself heard above the crowd.' History shows that while peasants are more prone to rioting to secure their daily bread, the gentry are more at home, quietly eating cake and buttered muffins in the peace of their palatial surroundings while all outside their mansion gates starve.
Don't get me wrong, my siblings are no more special than yours are, and like a bar of fudge, all are sweet with a few nuts thrown in! We each have our own family problems like every other house in the land, but 'failing to be there for each other during times of need' isn't one of them! There have been a few occasions in my life when I could call upon a friend for help and not receive it there and then, but there has 'never' been a time when I could call upon a family member and not receive it!
Being born of Irish parentage, we all naturally believe in superstition and the supernatural spirit. All have had our fortune told at one time or another and my three sisters are known to have often visited spiritualist gatherings and believe in being able to contact spirits that have 'passed over'; though I doubt that any one of them has ever admitted this practice and sought absolution (which is contrary to Catholic Orthodoxy), to the priest in the confessional box!
While me and my sister Mary drink little alcohol, our other five siblings more than make up for our deficiency, and while we all believe in ghosts, some of the heavier family drinkers swear they've even seen them from time to time. If you happen to be someone who doesn't believe in ghosts, then you've never been to an Irish wake or even attended an Irish family reunion when the departed are spoken of as though they stood alongside you!
If I had but one test of 'true family' it would be this; family means finding forgiveness! No matter what troubles visits a family, however big and hurtful the initial fall out was, blood is thicker than water. However many times a parent quarrels with their child and visa versa, or one brother or sister falls out with their sibling, or who did what to whom, when, where and why; at the end of the day, a loving family should find everything forgiveable. One cannot be at war with a family member and be at peace with either self or their God!" William Forde: October 16th, 2015.