I’m old enough to remember when a family was considered to be a combination of a mother, a father and 1.8 children – although I was never sure which one of the kids lost out on that one. But if that was considered ‘normal’, my family was, and continues to be anything but normal. Of course, if you go back 600 years or so the word family meant ‘servants, domestics or members of a household’ (from the Latin familia) so the etymology has changed a bit over time.
In his book ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah‘, Richard Bach wrote:
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
For me, my dad showed up when I was around four, and he’s been a part of our family ever since. Yes, my dad and I had our share of moments over the years, but in looking at myself I can see his influence in a lot of ways, shaping the man I have become. Before he came into our lives there was just the three of us, my mom, my sister and me. And from there our family began to grow.
To someone studying genealogy my family began with a father, a mother, my sister and me, added my dad (stepfather), my (step)sister, my other (step)sister and later added two more (step)sisters, a (step)brother, two nieces, three nephews, two (step)sons, two (step)grandsons and a great nephew, and that’s just to start. That’s far too complicated for me, so I just consider them all sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and grandsons. Why create artificial divisions where none need to exist? My nieces are my daughters as far as I’m concerned, and although Marcia’s sons are old enough not to need another father in their lives, they’re still sons to me. Love is what keeps everything connected, and that’s all that matters.
Today is Father’s Day, but for our family it’s also the date of another anniversary as my sister Liz passed away 18 years ago today. Two and a half years older than me, growing up she was sometimes my protector, sometimes my tormentor, often my teacher and always my sister. She is missed, but that sadness neither hides nor prevents me from enjoying the many blessings my life has and continues to offer me every day. Marcia is first among them, and this year will also mark 19 years of our being a couple. No man could begin to imagine all that she gives me… not even me. Marcia’s father turns 90 this year, and he’s an excellent choice for someone to be around for so long!
So, whether you’re a father/grandfather/great-grandfather, son, brother, uncle, big brother, mother serving as father, daughter, sibling… whoever you are, celebrate today, just because. Honour all of those who are a part of your family, and if you find yourself alone in the world, you’re welcome to be a part of ours.
P.S. Take our advice and use 23:37 of your day to watch this TED talk by Andrew Solomon about unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful talk we’ve ever seen.