When I was a kid we would all pile into the back seat of our car to go visit family. I have photographs of my brothers, sisterís and myself with our cousins. We would visit grandpa Pete and grandma Betty at their camp on the mountain, a place with lots of area to run and play in, the camp had no running water except that which trickled down a hose my grandpa Pete had run from a nearby spring.
My family lived nearby our grandpa Elmer and Grandma Ruthís farm, a place of many discoveries for a child my age. We would meet our cousins at the farm, they lived up the road, and we lived down the road. We would run down back to the pond to catch tadpoles or sit in the field after the corn was harvested and make corn cob pipes. We all thought picking rocks out of the field was fun, as was baling hay and stacking it in the hay loft,. One of my favorite things was the smell of the molasses after my uncle Jim would pour it on the cows hay.
Then life changed for us all, almost overnight it seems as I look back to that time in my life. We moved away from my grandparentís farm, now run by my grandmother Ruth and uncle Jim. We had a farm of our own; life became difficult with much work to do, and fun was a word from the past. I often wonder how life could change so quickly. We rarely piled into the car to visit Grandpa Pete and grandma Betty, we didnít see grandma Ruth much anymore, there were no cousins to meet up with or explore the farm with, no more corn cob pipes or tadpoles to collect from the pond, but we did make some new friends where we lived.
For many people family is defined as, parents, grandparent, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, someone who is born into a family. Then there are other people like me, people who are willing to lay their heart on the line, taking a chance to let someone they have met become family, someone God has placed in their path, this may be a child, a neighbor, an animal, the postman, the clerk at the grocery store, as long as they bring joy to your life. To me family members are those in your life who support you no matter what happens, they cheer you on, encouraging every step you take, they forgive you a bad day, not holding it against you. They do the best they can to understand you, they are happy to see you or hear your voice. these are the ones who are family, the ones you love and trust to look out for you, to pray with and for you even though you may vary in your beliefs, you are and do accept each other as is. For me this is a true joy, the addition to my family at any moment, you see I suffered a life-threatening illness in the winter of 1996, being alive to add to my family is a priority for me. The illness I suffered was a brain hemorrhage, a brain aneurysm, followed by embolization therapy over a three month period, culminating in a craniotomy. This wasnít the end though, I also suffered post traumatic stress disorder, depression, a visual disorder and numerous personal losses because of the physical limitations due to the trauma I have suffered and survived. Past all of this I take the chance, the risk to say to someone, I accept you as is. After all who says we have to limit who is a part of our family. I believe families are meant to be, we will find each other and the puzzle called life will be complete.
God begins my family tree.