I am the third of six children. My family consists of two loving, happily married parents, three brothers, two sisters, many aunts and uncles, thirty six first cousins, and my four loving grandparents. Without these people I don’t know where I would be right now. I feel so fortunate to not only have such a strong immediate family, but also an extended one that remains so closely knit.
I believe that family is one of the most important aspects that shape a person’s life. Parents, siblings, grandparents or relatives have a greater capacity to affect their family members than anyone else. Family is there when it all begins, and family is there when it ends.
While growing up, I always knew that family was important, because that is what I was taught. I guess I took it for granted. My brothers and I would fight constantly as kids, sometimes for no reason, but probably because we were tired of being around each other. As we grew older, my brothers went off to college, and the rest of us watched them grow closer. Their influence filtered down through our family. My three brothers and I are all either graduates or current students at Penn State, and my sister (the older of the two) will be attending as a freshman next year. I guess we were forced to get along.
When I was fourteen, my cousin Lauren, a year younger, died from complications of Cystic Fibrosis. She has a sister and two brothers, one of whom has the same terrible disease. Watching her family helped me realize that without each other, they would not have the strength to handle this situation with the grace and dignity that they did. In her death, Lauren brought the whole family closer together. Sometimes it takes some misfortune to recognize all the positive aspects of life.
The great thing about family is that everyone has one. Even if you never knew your parents, or don’t have any siblings, there is always someone that you can call your family. For example, I know a couple different people who were adopted when they were infants. Although they never knew their biological parents, and may not have any biological brothers or sisters, they are among the happier people I know. They are happy because they have happy, loving parents to call their family, and their family affects them more than anyone else.
There is always someone who has impacted your life in a way that no one else could.
There is no way you can ever repay them, nor do they expect you to. All you can do is hope to impact those in your life as much as they have impacted you.
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