On the occasion of our father’s funeral service, my sister Alexandra wrote,
“This is the sixth family: the family joined now by our common loss as well as by our common love. From Jessica in his first family to Sandra in his fifth family, and including all of us kids in between — we are all one family. We may not look like the family that comes with a dollhouse, or on TV, but that awkwardness, the complicated storyline, is part of the truth of what our family is really like.”
Our father married four times. His first two marriages, each which ended in divorce, produced five children—all girls! Over the course of his third marriage, Dad and Valerie (who already had a son) adopted three children. His fourth marriage didn’t introduce any new children into the family, but instead, thanks to his wife Sandra, provided Dad the support and strength needed to gather his progeny together in an attempt to begin healing the wounds so deeply felt by many of his children.
After my parents divorced, my mother met and subsequently married a man who already had three children. Apparently, Alfie had the “y” gene missing in my father’s DNA. Mom finally got her son—my brother Dean!
|My side of The Sixth Family|
During my childhood, there were some difficult times resulting from the various divorces in the family. For many years there was little contact with my “Canadian sibs.” In July 2007, Dad held a 75th birthday party. All but one of his children attended. One year later he was dead.
Valerie passed in 2001 and Alfie left us in 2004. My mom died on December 2, 2011.
My husband Scott’s family is no less complicated. His mother died in 1954, leaving his father to raise five children. Bill married a woman who was divorced with two children. Their blended family remained close following the deaths of both Bill and Dorothy and five of their seven children.
|Scott’s side of The Sixth Family|
Often, when parents pass away, the family begins to fracture. Grandchildren pull the adult siblings in different directions and it becomes harder to maintain family traditions.
Not our family. Perhaps because there was always a physical distance between most of us, our relationships haven’t changed that much over the years. But instead of our communications becoming more infrequent, they’ve pretty much remained static, in some cases, even increasing!
That, folks, is what I am thankful for this holiday. Despite the distances, despite the wounds, despite the differences in DNA—we are family. We might not call often, but we are always thinking of each other. And we know that no matter what, we are family. The Sixth Family.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog challenge for week #47 – Thankful. (In case you’re counting – don’t worry – you didn’t miss anything. I skipped over a few weeks so I could post this for Thanksgiving week!)