(I need to apologise for the delay - I've been on 10 flights, in 10 cities, and slept in 12 beds over the last month while managing a 16 month year old by myself till the last 10 days, submitting an academic article, working on an amicus brief for a Supreme Court case, putting together two book signings, attending three family reunions, and visiting friends and family. Now that we are back in London, baby jet lag has set in with its full fury. To say the least, I'm a tired, pregnant mamma!)
My dad got remarried four years ago to a wonderful woman, Janet Tanner, with four great kids. Her vision from the beginning was to have one big, happy, blended family.
Something about already losing two siblings (Betsy died in 2003 and John Robert in 2006) and still struggling with the divorce made me reluctant to embrace this same vision, love Janet with all my heart though I did. I liked her kids, but I didn't grow up with them and found it difficult to think about spending lots of money to see them when I rarely got to see my own blood siblings.
Then Janet contracted brain cancer - one of the nastier kinds (not that any cancer is non-nasty): glioblastoma. Her prognosis was terrible--3-5 months--but her faith exceptionally strong. She intends to outlive the thing. If anyone can do it, she can.
The cancer gave a new pallor to Janet's vision and request for a family reunion - with all of her kids and all of my dad's kids - over July 4th. Surprisingly, miraculously, we all, with the exception of two spouses (Lance unfortunately being one of them), made it to Sheboygan, Wisconsin where my supermom sister and her nine kids and husband (you read that right) hosted one spectacular reunion.
I think we were all surprised by the outcome. We hadn't been together since the wedding, but this time together was really, really fun. It felt like the people there--blood relation or no--were family, and I and everyone else hope for repeat experiences, many of them.
I can now see that, without discounting the irreplaceable role that my mom plays nor replacing or discounting my deceased siblings' losses, the additions to my family have helped to make it whole.
|All the grandkids.|
|Gideon's first "beach" on Lake Michigan.|
|Dinner with just the adults at a Thai restaurant. We arranged the entire restaurant|
to allow us to sit in a square configuration.
|My ridiculously funny little sis.|
|Love these cats - Danny and April with my dad and Mamma J.|
|Could my nephew Nathan be any cuter?|
|This pic epitomises their relationship.|
|Gideon said grandpa during this reunion. He somehow was naturally drawn to both Grandpas Updike |
(and, later) Grandpa Toler.
|Wow - love this photo, esp the phantom arm?|
|Gideon's first game of chess with super smart cousins Hyrum and Preston.|
|My sister Anje's incredible musical talent was inherited by her children in many different forms.|