This I Believe

Laura - kannapolis, North Carolina
Entered on November 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, gratitude

I believe that having more than one family has improved my life.

My life is quite unique. My father died when I was quite young, and my mother left me before he died. My grandparents and their extended family became my immediate family. It was almost like a “frozen dinner family” because one day I had a family and the next day I had a new one.

My new family is a melting pot of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. All are Southern, with most of the hospitality to follow. They are all religious, believing in the power of some god or the power of the human spirit to heal all wounds. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. I have a total of five families that treat me as a daughter, and that entitles me to five Christmases and birthdays every year.

One of my favorite examples of my families uniting to support me is from when I was younger. For my 16th birthday we decided to have a “Sweet 16” party at my favorite restaurant. From the time the first guests began to trickle in until all of the families had arrived, they sat on their separate sides and corners, talking quietly among their circles. However, as soon as all of the food came out, which happened to be “family style” dining, they all scooted a little closer, talked a little more to each other, until finally, they were all laughing and joking as a family – one family – my family. I was the common thread, the thing that their worlds revolved around. They were so happy, reminiscing about when I was a toddler and I loved my red plastic rocking chair or when my dad died and they all took turns taking care of me until everything was sorted out.

These are the memories that they hold dear and I am the reason, the center for these thoughts of times past, times precious.

The cons are only that they all like to spend time with me and that if I mess up, I am chastised by all of them. I have been to the varied church services of all my families and have realized that no matter the denomination, they all seem to preach the same message of love and kindness to others, this was important to my development as a young child. No matter if some of them don’t care for each other, they all love me unconditionally and will tolerate each other to be supportive of my endeavors, including college.

In life, you usually only get to have one or two close families and I consider myself more than lucky to have five families, some of which are not even blood-relatives to spend my time with, to love, and to be loved. Having a family that knows who you are as a person and respects you regardless is one of the greatest blessings of my life.