We Are Family

I load my bags into the back seat of my car and get in. I honk once like I always do as I make my U turn. They watch from the doorway. Two dark silhouettes outlined by the bright lights coming from inside the house. They wave and then close the door against the dark chilly night. There is a lump in my throat but it isn’t caused by sadness. I round the corner as I have done so many times before and the shadow of my childhood home rushes by me on the left and disappears behind me into the darkness. I set off on my drive home and quietly reflect on just how lucky I am. Those two people waving at me from the doorway are my parents and I have never once had reason to question their love for me or mine for them. It’s always been that way and the notion that I am very fortunate to have that is not lost on me. My two sisters are pretty great too. One is a creative fashionista going to College in the North and the other my beautiful and kind big sis who has re located to the South. I grew up with my big sister and her moving out of state has not shaken our closeness one bit. I take delight in seeing the poised and responsible young woman that my little sister has become. The painfully shy little gymnast flipping around the house is all grown up. I can’t wait to see what amazing things she is going to accomplish in her life. We are so very different and yet our parents girls and therefore the same. No matter how much space and time comes between us we will always have that sisterly bond.

My parents don’t live too far and I try to make sure to go up there regularly to visit. I am the only one of their girls who still can. My mom and I spend time together as any two best friends might. There was happy hour and the movies Saturday, shopping on Sunday, and plenty of just hanging out and talking in between. I couldn't ask for a better mother or friend. I am not sure why it never occurred to me before to ask but just before I left on Sunday night I wanted my parents to tell me the story of how they met. I could tell my dad was trying to fight the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he re counted the story of meeting my mom at a club in Detroit. His gruff exterior melts away as they take me along with them down memory lane. I can see how much they love each other in their exchanged glances as they smile at each other and chime in with their version of the events as they unfolded over 35 years ago. I try to picture my dad as the cool "older man." The handsome fit military man my mom describes him as and my mom as a young mother barely 20 years old. I should be so lucky to have so many years of marriage and shared experiences with my husband. There are so many secrets and history that I could never begin to understand that has kept their bond strong through the ups and downs of life and marriage. I know it hasn't been easy. My dad has not always been the easiest man to love. He is his own person. With time comes acceptance and understanding. His heart has always been in the right place and we love him as he is. As they speak of their early days my memory is jogged as fragmented and vague images of my childhood dart in and out of my mind so fast that they never fully materialize. A huge gold Oldsmobile with vinyl quilted seats, long cramped family road trips all the way to Michigan. A faded red door with peeling paint from a long ago house we used to live in. Just bits and pieces here and there but enough for me to know that I had a good childhood. I wish I could remember more. They were so very young when they started this family. I am grateful for all of the years of work and love that went into making a home for my sister’s and me.

My family is imperfect as all families and people are but we love each other and want the best for each other. That is what family is all about. There are people all over the world who were beaten, neglected, forgotten or otherwise unloved by the people that you most expect to love you unconditionally and I feel lucky that I haven’t ever had to experience that kind of pain. My parents have watched me grow over the years from a girl scout in pigtails with missing front teeth into the woman I am today. I’d like to think that I have made them proud. My parents and my sisters have always been there for me and I am comforted by the certainty that no matter what, they always will be. Just as I will always be there for them.