I am very lucky: I have a relatively large network of family. Three sisters, a brother-in-law who’s great, lots of nieces & nephews, even two aunts still living.
I also have a large family-of-the-heart: BFFs, ersatz brothers, cousins, and just folks who feel like family. Each as different from the others as gardenias from roses, but all necessary to me.
This past few days, my ‘brother’ has been in town, w/ his wonderfully funny & creative wife (my ‘sister-in-law’), and their astoundingly smart, witty, and beautiful three daughters. We were able to get together each day of their short trip, and I was happier than…teddy bears? What IS the happiest of beings, anyway? (I’m banking on domestic cats, myself…)
More seriously, the family we choose — those friends we love as dearly as if we shared bloodlines — are perhaps more important than those we ‘have.’ To paraphrase Robert Frost, family is who has to take you in. I know: it doesn’t always work that way. But there is a kind of explicit responsibility that blood dictates, for most of us. We don’t badmouth family — even if they’re as mean as crimped snakes.
Whereas the family we choose? Each time we meet, it’s a gift — given from love & shared memories and passions. How cool is that? My brother-of-the-heart, and his dear dear wife, are the perfect examples. I’ve known him all my adult life — he introduced me to my beloved, in fact. And she is the wife I would have chosen for him, had I been all-wise and all-powerful. Their three girls almost convinced me to adopt, even though I knew in my heart that I was really too old & tired for a baby, however wonderful. These girls, let me tell you, are darn near perfect.
All five of them remind me how much happiness — and being w/ people whom you love — influences your state of being. After a day w/ the group, I’m a better person: trying to learn to be more friendly, more caring, more of a listener, and less of a story-teller (I soooo love stories!). And I can do that — although not well! — best w/ my families. The good news is that no matter how giddy or caffeinated I am, they do take me in. I ove them all dearly. And the best news of all? They love me back.