Family and things like it [29]

Tonight will be like two posts in one.  It’s a little “what are you reading” and a little personal.  Which is okay with me; is it okay with you?

I just finished reading Sarah Dessen’s Lock and Key.  I don’t know why I feel so connected to this woman.  I’ve never met her.  Not once.  But she went to UNC.  And she lives in Chapel Hill even currently which isn’t far from where I grew up.  I guess it’s mostly because she lives a normal life kind of similar to the life I live/d, and it gives me hope that if someone like her can become such a successful author…then so can I?

Anyway.  The book was good.  Great, even.  I’d started it months ago (uh, hello Thanksgiving…) but somehow lost the book.  If you know me, and know how my back seat often becomes my “catch all” that then gets shoved into the trunk of my car…you’d understand perfectly how a book can just turn up missing.  So I guess a good thing that came of the Camry dying (and no, we don’t have it back yet…) is that we emptied out my trunk when we left the car at the shop, and I found the book.

A theme runs through the entire novel, I love novels like that.  Kind of like an afternoon special from when we were kids.  The theme was family.  The main character struggles to find her own definition for such a broad  word.  As she adjusts to her new life, she starts to little by little identify the fact that there isn’t just one standard definition for family.  And it got me thinking about what I used to tell my best friend over and over as a teenager.

“You know, Jo, it’s a family thing.  I’ll let you spend time with them,” K would tell me in response to me inviting her to the house for any form of gathering.

{my immediate family at our wedding.  photo courtesy of nancy ray photography.}

Oh man!  That used to frustrate me so much.  Because in my life, family never meant blood.  Sure, just my blood relatives alone could fill an arena, but that’s not the point.  Family to me has always been simply defined as: people I love. You know that Uncle I’m always writing about?  The one who died and left my world crumbled in pieces.  Whose death, though it was years ago, is something I still struggle with every day?  Not an uncle. Nope.  Just some guy my mom met outside of church before  I was born.  Sure, when you define something in such plain terms it seems almost trivial.  Family is what you make of those relationships.

I’m the baby of five.  We spread across the US now.  All grown up with our own lives – our own families. And yet we can all still be so entertained by an email thread between the five of us discussing what to get my father for his birthday.  That’s family.

{my siblings & me.  all home together for the first time in years: day of uncle’s funeral.}

Or the fact that my mom calls from dinner in Disney World just because she’d heard there would be terrible storms here in GA the other night.  Just checking in, you know.  Family.

Or like my dad learning about the Camry and not hesitating to step in and help.  Because that’s what family does: they help when and how they can.

What does family mean to you?

About JoElizabeth

I am a writer who loves to explore all different types of relationships. I am most happy when surrounded by my loved ones and furry children. I've never met a stranger, and I talk way too much. My favorite things to do are eat {preferably at a restaurant} with good friends, write, watch DVDs of TV series {especially FRIENDS}, drink lots of coffee and learn.
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