If you've known me long or if you've read many of my posts, you know that my mom died when I was 15 years old - a sophomore in high school and my dad died when I was 25 years old. By the time I was as old as my kids are, I had neither parent. All of my grandparents are also deceased and they died many years ago also.
On my daddy's side, all of his siblings have died and have been dead for many years, too. I do have a few first cousins but we aren't very close. I do know that I could go to at least one of them if I needed him and he would be there for me. We have stayed in contact - but only once or twice a year. When all the parents die, it is hard for the next generation to stay as close.
On the other hand, I am fortunate to have married into a big family who loves me as their own. Mark's momma is still living and he has two brothers and a sister and we have nieces and nephews and cousins (as seen in the fourth of July post). Mark's grandmother lived to be 95 and I had the privilege of knowing her for our dating years and our first year of marriage.
I've written posts about my sisters. I'm very close to one because we lived together after our mom died but she lives in Texas. Thank God for cell phones. Before cell phones, we talked for an hour every Saturday morning. Now we talk everyday (almost!). My other sister and I aren't as close but I imagine it is because she married when I was very young and she is 13 years older than I and she has a granddaughter older than my children. But they are both my sisters and I love them.
My mamma lived a very hard life growing up. She was in foster care at various times and I think she was probably abused in one of those foster homes. My mamma loved us and protected us and our daddy was a fine man. He could out cuss the best cussers around (boy, that sounds southern!!) but he was a moral man whose love for us never dimmed - no matter what we did. Believe me, Glenine and I gave him some reasons to wonder (not Becky - I think she was perfect - Becky, are you reading???) My momma had several half brothers and sisters. I loved Uncle Henry so much. He was one of momma's younger half brothers. I know that momma and daddy both loved Uncle Henry. Even more importantly, I KNOW without a shadow of doubt, that Uncle Henry loved me. He loved me because I was family and he also loved me because I reminded him of my momma and he loved me because - just because. I'm 54 now and my mom had just celebrated her 50th birthday when she died. She was a tiny little thing and I'm not but I still look like her. Uncle Henry married Aunt Faye many years ago and I know that she loves me,too. Over the last few years, we have tried to spend more time together - meeting for lunch, visiting at Christmas. I am so thankful for them because they are MY family. We have the same blood running through our veins (I have no idea whether that is really medically correct or not but it sounds good!!). That blood just happens to have a lot of Cherokee Indian blood in it and I am proud of that heritage.
We met for lunch a few weeks ago while my cousin, Cathy and her daughter and grandson were in town. Her sister, Cindy lives here so when I would meet Uncle Henry and Aunt Faye for lunch, Cindy would join us. This family has had so many heartaches over the last few years but they cling to their faith in God and they continue to put one foot in front of the other each day and they are able to have joy in their lives even when their hearts are sad. They are MY family and I love them and I am so glad that they are a part of my life and I am so proud to call them family!!!
Cindy is on the left and Henry (uncle Henry's namesake) is peaking out and his momma, Amy is peaking out also. Cathy is in the back and Aunt Faye is in the front. I sure do love them. They are my family!!