"For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of theLord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
So, what is family? Who is part of your family? What does family DO and how do you recognize them?
Well, I have a lot of family. I have family in Ohio, family in South Carolina, family in Texas... But I also have family who don't have the same blood running in their veins as mine. If you checked our DNA, you may not think that we are family. But we are.
Family are people who are there for you. When things are rough, they are there to uphold you, to support you in your roles as husband, wife, father, mother. They are there to hold your hand when you are terrified, and there to laugh with when things are good. They are the ones who know the small things that matter to you...and always seem to be able to remember those small things.
In my life, I have been blessed with several people who are not of the same DNA, but who truly are family. These people have become an integral part of our lives.
Sam and Gail, Layne's very best friends...the first people he introduced me to--in fact, long before I met his DNA family, I met Sam and Gail. He told me these two people were family...and that they had loved him like a brother and sister. Those feelings only intensified as the years went on. When Layne was diagnosed, it was Gail who I called for support. It was she who bore my tears when I couldn't share them with Layne. It was they who insisted that they could come down and help out in person...and just give us hugs--though the trip was long and the cost, I'm sure, outrageous.
Gail is a sister. Sam, a brother. They always will be. My kids look on them as...family. Because they are.
Connie--she's a bit opinionated. She's a bit obnoxious...and she can be downright sarcastic. I think that is why I like her. When we needed friends in Texas, she was there, always there. We stayed with her, we bothered her...and when Layne died, she flew in, became my brain, and took care of our family as if --well, as if they were HER family. She is family.
Then there are family members who you don't get to choose, but who actually ARE your family. People like my son-in-law, Chris. Chris is pretty amazing. When Layne was sick, he brought the family to see him. When we needed help, and I was exhausted...he supported Teri in coming out to help me--for weeks. She was able to help with feedings and doctor visits...which made my life so much easier.
Then, it came time for us to move. This has been very difficult. It's been pretty much--well, our family only--doing the move. And it is exhausting and mentally difficult. Not many people would give up three weeks of leave and travel across the country to pilot a moving truck for someone else. Except Chris. Chris has been here, helping to remove some of Layne's work for me, disassembling furniture, filling boxes, and even digging out my special rosebush. He has spent hours and hours and hours measuring, toting, and getting sore muscles. He has a lot more of them to go. I didn't get to pick Chris, but I am certainly glad that he is family.
See, that is what family is. They are there physically pitching in. They are there mentally, giving you a boost. They believe in you, hope the best for you, and overlook when your hair isn't done and your jeans have moving gunk on them. Family is not a name, it's action. It isn't doing what it is asked, it is offering BEFORE being asked...and following through with what you offer. Because these people depend on you--you're part of the same root system, like sequoia trees. You know if they fall, you fall. Wow, sounds a lot like that saying that Layne kept using the last few months. "Love is an action, not a word."
He had noticed that everyone wanted to call and say they loved him in the last few months...but very few picked up a hand and helped--take him to the doctor, ensure that his days were stress free--and in the hospital, be willing to give him quiet and peace. So many people wanted what THEY wanted of his last days, not what HE wanted. And he loved to refer to those folks as "vultures."
But there were those who showed love not by saying they loved him, but by action. When he called them for support, they were there. They held him up. They made him feel valued. If he wanted to just be alone, they let him do that. When he was lonely, they were there for him. And those people...with their hands holding him up--those people were family. Each and every one of them.
I'm very thankful ...for family. Those who share my DNA and those who do not.