As you grow up you realize as you form your own family units the concept of family can be redefined. I have a lot of friends who don’t have much family by related blood per se, so the friends fill the family shoes.
When my sister and I were little there were a lot more of us. Not in our immediate family, we were just four people- but through aunts and uncles and cousins and great aunts and great uncles and grandparents and great grandparents there were more of us. As we grew up, the numbers thinned. But we still had both of our parents.
In 2005 our father died. He had fought prostate cancer valiantly and on his own terms.
For me, the death of my father is still somewhat of a surreal event. My memories from that time are a lot like flashes of Kaleidoscope images. Lots of bits separated by flashes of color.
I remember my mother and my sister being so instantly devastated and falling apart around me that I was almost afraid to grieve for a very long time. I remember looking out across the church which was standing room only giving one of my father’s eulogies . In order to get through that and not embarrass myself by dissolving into tears I found two of my friends Stevie and Barb, and focused on them.
Other things I remember from the day of my father’s funeral were two people who weren’t there. One was my father’s brother, his only brother. Even as a child I never thought much of him and I pretty much wrote him off after that. He was like a selfish caricature version of my father. Truthfully, and without guilt and reservation, I can say with a clean conscience I don’t care if I ever see him again.
The other person who wasn’t there that day was my godfather. That was a more bitter pill to swallow, especially since he lived down the street from the church. He was literally two or three blocks away.
My late godfather was a great disappointment to me on that day. He had known my father (and mother) since high school and he gave the toast at their wedding. So I let my godfather go. I was sad for a moment when I heard he had died, but I did not attend his funeral which was at the church a block away from where my father’s funeral had been held. I saw no need to open that door one last time.
We all moved on. It took a while, but we found our way and it was OK but it was different.
Then in 2010, we also lost my brother-in-law quite suddenly. Our little family unit was devastated all over again. It nearly broke me to watch my sister and her children grieve because there was nothing anyone could do other than to be there for them. It was also so incredibly hard to watch my mother grieve this new loss as well.
Eventually the clouds lifted and we all moved on. One day our mother finally ‘fessed up and told us she was seeing someone. (We had suspected this, incidentally.) Mother seemed almost scared to tell us like we would be upset. But we weren’t upset, we were very and truly happy for her. We also felt that our father would not have wanted her to be alone because he loved her that much. Our mother was truly happy and alive again, and we loved it.
So for the past few years we have watched a rather remarkable love story develop and unfold. At a time in life where a lot of people tend to wind down and accept a more solitary existence, my mother once again found love.
And my sister and I grew to love her gentlemen as a surrogate father. We felt so lucky and so blessed to have him.
I am especially personally grateful for him as he really gets me as an individual . He has this uncanny intuition with people and capacity to listen to, understand, and love that is just lovely. I don’t know how else to describe it. And on Monday, 22 May, 2017 he officially became our stepfather.
It was a quiet and intimate occasion, just the children and the couple whose dinner party inadvertently introduced them. Yes, this was something that happened quite literally by fate.
My mother and new stepfather were married by a judge they knew. After the ceremony was complete, the judge asked the children if they had anything to say. My sister spoke, but I didn’t have my words at that time. So I did not speak.
It has taken a couple of days for my wandering thoughts to come together. And among those thoughts I marvel at the modern family we all have become.
My own little family unit is a blended family, and now my larger family unit is a blended family. My sister and I have five stepsiblings! We gained four brothers and one sister…and that does not include spouses and children!
The thing about my newly blended family is how marvelous they are. Seriously, they are awesome.
We (the children) have all gotten to know each other over these past few years as our parents came together from being widowed. So this is actually a really happy time for all of us. We all have had our bittersweet moments as we remember the parents who are no longer with us, but we are so fortunate that our parents have found such a wonderful love together and bought all of us together.
The power of love and happiness is a powerful thing indeed. We are all stronger and better together. A true case of Yours, Mine, and Ours — which incidentally is one of my favorite movies. (The 1968 version starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.)
Believe in love. It takes you on the most unexpected journeys in life.
Thanks for stopping by.