10.22.2006

Extended Family

My mother has eight brothers and sisters. Almost all of them live on the East Coast and while I was growing up, we would travel out to visit for three weeks or so every summer. My cousin, Amy, and I were inseparable during those visits and we are still close, however, neither of us has made the trek to visit the other in several years.

My dad has three siblings and I have fifteen cousins on that side of the family. One of my aunts lives in the area; the other two live in Denver and Ann Arbor. We get together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and sometimes Fourth of July.

Even though I have a large family in numbers, while I was growing up, our family was pretty isolated. We didn't really ever have neighbors over for barbecues during the summer, no friends came over to play cards and hang out on the weekends. I remember my best friend from school was always going over to this other family's house for all sorts of events. They even went on vacations together.

Our family was pretty quiet, I guess. My parents had a lot of marital problems, although they didn't end up getting divorced until after I had graduated from college. My dad was involved in city politics and knew a lot of people, but it was almost like our family didn't want to let too many people in close to see what really went on inside our home. My mom kept herself isolated and only confided her problems in long distance phone calls to her sister.

A few years ago, I was invited over to a friend of a friend's garage to play cards and drink some beer. There I met the beginning of what I consider my extended family. They themselves are an extended family: siblings, cousins, old friends from high school, and random connections that somehow tie this eclectic group together. Their children are growing up together like family. We see each other almost every week. We go on vacations together. There is a closeness between us that reminds me of what a family should be.

Today, I am going to the baptism of the newest addition to this family. How lucky am I to be invited to be a part of this beautiful baby girl's life? When I was growing up, this would have been an event for "real" family only... that is, if they were in town at the time.

I am grateful to have these wonderful people in my life. I hope that as we continue in our lives, we can continue to experience life with each other. Joys and successes, sorrows and frustrations. Because that's what family is for...

(But if anyone else moves to freakin' Foley, I'll be pissed right off!)

8 comments:

Dave Morris said...

Happy baptism to Ella, she's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen, save of course, my own daughter. ;)

I agree with everything you said here... what a great group of friends. This is one of my favorite things you've written.

Anonymous said...

Often the "family" we choose (or that chooses us) means so much more to us than the one we were born into.

Some might think it sad that you aren't closer to your blood family, but I think finding friends who are like family is a joyous event.

Anonymous said...

You brought tears to my eyes with this post and a smile to my face with the remark about moving to Foley!! We love you and you will always be "Family"

At least we didn't move to Breckenridge Colorado!!!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhh....family....

I hate family. ;)

Steve~

Jen, Fred, Jennifer or Mom said...

MAN!!! I aready feel bad that I am the only one who lives all the way in WI..........thanks for making me feel more sad.......geesh!!!!

Diana said...

I am very greatful to be a part of that extended family as well and glad that you have also become a part of it! It is truly amazing when you think about it- our backgrounds, personalities, etc., the relationship we all have with each other, how we lookout for one another, etc. I am also greatful that within this extended family we have, that many of their actual family members have also accepted us as part of their "extended family" as well.(hope that made sense..) Anyway....It's a great thing!! Thanks for posting about it!

Mindy said...

OMG - sitting at work with tears in my eyes...I don't cry!

That was an awesome post Em

LBseahag said...

That is awesome...I want you to be my neighbor or cousin or both...