My family. Many of you reading this are a part of it. A big part, or a small part, you all helped to shape me and help me grow to appreciate what I have. “All because two people fell in love” has become Nan and Pop Miles’ tagline over the years, and while I never knew them, I knew the children they raised, and their grandchildren, and those in my generation. We were all raised differently, right or wrong, and we all have our quirks and oddities. But we are family, and when push comes to shove and the tide hits the coast we are always family. From the tiniest place I’ve ever seen in Burgeo, Newfoundland to that mystery city that keeps drawing my various loved ones in, bustling Fort MacMurray, Alberta, we have family and we are there for each other.
This Christmas, Kevin’s mom and step-father gave us a Christmas card that said “To a wonderful son and daughter-in-law” and I teared up, and then my parents gave me one that said “To our daughter and her family” and it was all I could do to hold the flood back (another quirk that runs in the family, I think I’ll blame those specific crying genes on Aunt Brenda, God love her!) and I realized something; Kevin and I are already family. I don’t need a ring on my finger, a fancy wedding, or a baby in my arms to know that Kevin and I are bound together by something stronger. Love. And so all of my dear loved ones near or far, are his family and likewise with his. My mother calls him “sonny-bear” and my dad calls him “boyo”. His mother calls me her daughter and I feel so lucky. I have felt the love of a great family for so long, but the feeling of a growing family is like no other.
There is another thing that I love about our families coming together; grandparents. I don’t have any, but Kevin does. His step-dad’s parents visit all the time, and while we speak different languages (although I’m learning!) we get along quite well. I’ve known Kevin’s grandparents on his paternal side since 2005 when I moved to New Brunswick. Kevin and Jason lived with their grandparents when they were younger, but when I met Kevin, they lived with him in a downstairs suite. They walked often through our neighbourhood, and were seen in the yard all the time. When Kevin and I were still ‘just friends’ I often joked saying, “Can I pretend that your grandparents are mine?” because they were so great, funny and caring. There were always chocolate bars and candy in the suite where they lived and I learned where they were kept. I brought Christmas cards for them every year and gave them hugs when I ran into them out and about. When Kevin and I started dating I began calling his Grandfather “Pepere” and his Grandmother “Memere”. It felt natural. It also felt scary. I had already lost four Grandparents, and Memere had Alzheimer’s. It was a harsh life lesson: it’s never fair.
So I stood by Kevin as his Memere’s condition worsened. Held his hand when we visited her after she was moved into a care facility, and cried for him when we left. We brought cards at Christmas to put by her bed and Kevin spoke to her and gave her hugs and kisses and struggled when she stopped recognizing our company. I tried not to think about what Kevin was going to go through unless I had to.
Yesterday, God decided it was Memere’s time. She had been in the care home for 3 years, and Christmas morning she had a stroke. We went to visit her, and sat with her a while. We chatted with Kevin’s other family members and cautiously watched her and listened to her breathe. We remembered all of the good times, and we waited. I cried when we left, for Kevin and for Memere, and for everyone who knew her and would be affected by this loss. At about 2:30am today Kevin’s phone rang and my heart rose into my throat. There could only be one reason for a phone call in the middle of the night.
So God took another one of my family members today, and made her an angel up in Heaven. I hope that He introduces her to my grandparents and my great aunts and uncles who are up there, for I know without a doubt that they would call her family. I know that Memere is up there, happy and well, watching over her boys; Andre, Luc, Dean, Derek, Jason, and Kevin and she will be a great angel as she was grandmother.
As my family grows with the new addition of little baby Madyson on December 21st, 2010, our family sharing in the excitement of the news across the country, they also shared with us the news of Kevin’s grandmother and shared in our sadness and loss. I love my family, for who we are and how much love we share with one another. I know that we will all be here for one another, in future excitement and happy times and also in sad times.
“Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.” -Paul Pearshall
If you are reading this, and you are family, we love you. We may not live near you, nor have spoken in quite some time. You may be dealing with daily hardships or triumphs that go unnoticed. You may be healthy or sick, happy or sad, and you may feel like you could just give up. If you feel like you have no one to go to, you’re wrong. There are angels among us, and they are our family members. We are here for you, just as you are here for us.