Family Matters
Family Matters
Posted by linda_notonfb - Tagged , , , , ,
What does a family look like? Back in my early years, it was pretty much Dick, his wife Jane, their kids Sally and Sam and a dog named Spot. I may be hazy about the names, but we all read about them, right?

Recently I attended an Equality California event where a beautiful and poised 14-year-old I'll call Christine talked about being bullied--because she was born Christopher and knew she was a girl trapped in a boy's body. Thankfully, her mother understood that loving this child was more important than which bathroom she used at school.

Queue Bob Dylan, "for the times they are a-changin'."

In my own family of origin, it was Mom, Dad, a year-younger sister and me. Plus, occasionally, like chess pieces being moved from square to square, my Dad's older kids from two previous marriages would float in and out of the picture. By the time I was 20, my parents had died; by the time I was 40, my sister declared herself an only child, and I'd lost contact with the half-siblings.

So when I divorced mr. invisible, the name I've given my ex, after listing him as my "contact in case of emergency" for three decades, I felt like the cheese stands alone. I moved to CA last year, and with my closest blood relatives four states away, pieced together a new family--of friends.

This family of choice includes the same folks who listened when no one else wanted to hear how miserable I was for the 1,000th time after mr. invisible became that guy who, it turns out, is perfect for the part of the asshole in any B-list movie. They're the same ones I call when I miss my darling daughter and her three babies so much it physically hurts to see a young couple pushing a stroller (but upon closer inspection, the strollers where I live are not carrying infants, but rather little dogs with bows in their hair). I digress.

There is a refreshing and uplifting give and take in this new family, with no requisite sibling rivalry tied to which parent liked who best--we're all different sisters and brothers from other mothers, different colors, and sexual persuasions who've had a variety of cultural and religious upbringings. Goody, for example is Jewish, an only child, gay, with a British accent. Oy.

When another of my BFF brothers I'll call JP was diagnosed with cancer last month, I accompanied him to his first meeting with the surgeon. It's like the world slows down when someone I love is sick--I get tunnel vision and break all incoming information into categories so that I can feel in control: define the problem, research it, then wrestle it to the ground. My mother instincts kicked into high gear with JP, and I made medication lists and scheduled meals and lectured him about fluid intake until I drove him slightly nuts.

But that's where the give and take comes in. JP's the same guy who told me I looked pretty when I felt unseen and unloved after my divorce. He made me his "plus one" to every party and charity event--until I could walk into those things alone and feel fine about it. When I needed a margarita, he was my go-to guy, and we'd often end up laughing--or crying--or both afterwards. Sometimes it was my problems, sometimes his that sent us on the emotional roller coaster--but it didn't matter. We knew we had each other's back.

So when I travel to the Midwest this month for Thanksgiving to be with my DD (darling daughter), her loving husband and my three grandbabies, I'll also give thanks for my health, for a personable and highly skilled surgeon at UCLA who expertly cared for JP (who is on the mend), and my family: The one I'm tied to by nature and the one I've chosen to nurture. I would be lost without them. Love you, my peeps!

Click to read the next post: "Match WTF, Part Deux"
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