January 23, 2005


With my wife out of town for a couple of days, and me home with my two sons, I've had some time to do a little thinking about family. And I realize that family, at least for me, comes in many different forms, and is always being reshaped and reformed. Four years ago, we had an exchange student from Brazil become a part of our family. Even though he is now back in Brazil, he emails me nearly every day, telling me about life in college, job interviews, and relationships. I feel that he is as much a part of my family as my own two sons, and for his part, he even addresses me as "Dad" in his emails, even though he has his own father in Brazil.

Lately, two brothers, one a 7th grader, the other 9th, have been "hanging out" in our house. There's nothing wrong with their own home and their own family, but I've realized that for them at least, one can never have too many places where you belong, where you truly are "at home." I'm honored that they have adopted my family as their "second" family.

Yesterday, I had a meeting in Santa Cruz, a 3-hour drive (one-way). The meeting was at a church, so I called the pastor and asked if there was someone who could watch my sons (who are 3 & 7) while I was in the meeting. He not only found someone, but both he and the care provider were as gracious as can be. I realized once again, that for me, church is family, and the members of a church that is 180 miles away are simply "extended" family.

After the meeting, My sons and I, along with another person who was at the meeting, went to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which has rides and games and other fun activities, right on the beach. (It was sunny & beautiful in Santa Cruz, and we weren't about to head back to the foggy Sacramento Valley before we had to.) This other person quickly became a part of our family as well, at least for the day. When we dropped her off at her house, my sons were sad to see her go.

I'm finding families everywhere. And they do not respect any of the boundaries that so often define social or cultural groups. My families include people from different races, different nations, different sexual orientations,... and they are all wonderful.

Having said all that, these families are also always changing. We welcome people into our circle of love, but then often we have to let them go.

My wife, on the other hand, comes home tomorrow night, and she is the one person who I get to hold forever, and she gets to hold me forever. Even our children will one day grow up, move out, and perhaps move far away, but my wife and I are together as long as we live. Sorry if that's a bit sappy, but it's true, and worth saying out loud once in awhile ... don't you agree?

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