Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We Are Family

I wanted to write this last week, but I have pictures I wanted to add to it, and I couldn't find the photo album they were. Of course, I had every other album but this particular one. I finally found it yesterday, so I'm good to go.

Most of you know how I feel about family. That family doesn't necessarily doesn't mean who you are blood related to, but that it's who has your back while you have theirs. It's reciprocal, not obligation. It's relationships that lift you up, not bring you down. It gives you a warm feeling, not a pit in your stomach.

I have no guilt whatsoever saying goodbye to toxic people, whether related or not. I don't look at it as cutting out, I look at it as giving me more time and energy to spend on the people who we consider family. Who we want to see and who want to see us, with no expectations that we'd be set up to fail. 

My mom was my family. Even she though had these weird ideas about obligation and the right thing to do. As a kid I had to call people I didn't want to talk to every Sunday night. I had to send cards to this person or that person for whatever fake Hallmark holiday. I resented it, because I don't believe I should have to do that unless I'm feeling it. If it's not authentic, what's the point? I do plenty, in my own way, that doesn't include fake sentiment on cue. I'm not very schmaltzy. I'm just not a greeting card kind of gal. I don't wax poetic all the time about how I feel. I write a blog entry when I feel compelled to share, and call it a day.

Since Rita passed away in 2009, when E was around seven months old, for the most part, it's been B, E, and me as a "family". Not long after my mom died, E lost all his grandparents. For whatever reasons they had, the rest chose not to be in his life. I didn't feel guilt that he didn't have grandparents, I just felt sad for him that he'd romanticize the idea of grandparents. The ones he was left with wouldn't have been the romantic version, but I was sure he'd always wonder anyway.

Barbara was my mom's best friend and neighbor. She picked up all Rita's slack when I was a kid- feeding us, letting us in when my mom forgot to be around after school or whenever. But she was my mom's friend and I was off doing my own thing. I grew up, went to college, lived by my school, and was just living my life. I had my own issues with my mom at times so her friends weren't really on my radar.

She started coming every week after my mom died to see E. And me. I just felt like she knew my mom would want her to spend time with E, not in her place, but to get to enjoy him like she would have. Eventually her husband, Bob, started coming too. As E grew, he was more and more active, and more fun for them to play with, teach and hang out with.

As they'd come to see us every week, we got closer also. Lucky on both ends. I got the benefit of their love, wisdom, and getting to hear the other sides of stories I only knew Rita's half. They made so many things in my past make more sense. On their end, they were made to get iPhones and learn how to text. That, was life-changing for them. Now they know to text when they're stuck in traffic instead of people thinking they could be dead.

E looked and looks forward to every visit, not happy when plans have had to change and they couldn't come or we couldn't be there. He got very attached to them and it was totally reciprocal. Out of the blue, a few years ago, he started calling them his grandparents. They happily let him. They have their own grandchildren, but they never made him feel like he wasn't theirs. They have huge hearts and take people under their wings all the time, so why not us too?

It would've been great if my mom hadn't died or the other grandparents had stepped up. However, I wouldn't trade B & B for the world. E (and we) got exactly what we need. People who care, who we reciprocate the feeling, with no obligations and no drama. We couldn't have asked a genie for a better relationship.

Last week, E had off two days from school to make up for the snow days they didn't have. One of the days, B & B decided to take him to Van Saun Park. I had other stuff to do, sent him off with them and was doing my normal Tasmanian Devil errand session. As I was in the supermarket, I got photos from Barbara of E and them on my phone, from the park.

I just got this feeling...I don't know if it was just an overwhelming feeling of luck or what. I've been there with E a million times. Just not in awhile because he's older and we're busy. As I looked at the couple of photos, it just reminded me of how my grandparents used to take me there when I was a kid. He gets to have that experience, with his grandparents, and have the same kind of awesome memories I have. I never thought he'd have that after my mom died. Even if she'd been alive, she was more the grandma to have him watching Gossip Girl than out in the trenches of the outdoors in any way. Maybe laying naked in the pool tanning, telling him he didn't get enough color.

They've enriched his life so and I'll be eternally grateful that he got to have that experience and so many more that they've given him. They take him to museums and places I don't have the time or inclination to go. They read with him and teach him things I'd never think to teach him. They give him love, attention, affection, and every inch of their hearts. They treat him like he's one of their own. They spoil him. They give him tons of chatchkes that he thinks he's passing on to "his son". They are his grandparents.

I just wanted to get that out because there is no way to repay what they've done for us, just because of who they are. They took on a whole little family of three and made us five. I'm never buying a card to say this, that COULD say this, so I put it here, with the pics I found of me and my grandparents, along with the pics of E and his adopted ones.

No comments:

Post a Comment