My mom raised me as her own, as did her entire family. I was raised with a sense of family that many people don’t have nowadays. Family is like an insurance policy; it may not be a constant in your life, yet it is always there when you need it. Not all families are that way, I know, but I was raised in the country where family worked together and we each have our own areas of expertise.
I married into a ready-made family when I was 19 and inherited 2 kids, a 9-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. They didn’t live with us but, as you can tell, there just wasn’t much of an age difference, especially between Kim and me. Back then, it seemed like a major difference, 9 and 19, but not now. We all went our separate ways not long after that; the kids and their mom moving to Ohio and Ed and I staying here in the D/FW area.
Many years later, they moved back to this area and I was thrilled. Ed and I had those years to be selfish with each other and to do whatever the hell we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it. It was fantastic! But I was glad to get the kids back closer to home. We really missed watching them grow up. And not long after that, we added another child to our family and, my goodness, was he spoiled!
This year marks a major milestone in our extended family. Now, I could say that having two of the three kids back home would make it so but no, that’s not what I’m talking about. You see, every ten years, we have a Year of Decades. Let’s see if I can give you a quick rundown.
- Ed will be turning 80 in early September. I know, I can’t believe it either. He doesn’t look nor act like any other 80-year-old I know.
- Donni, Ed’s ex-wife and one of my dearest friends, just turned 70. You are correct! She doesn’t look her age either! And, I know, it’s kind of strange that we would be good friends, but we are so much alike that it’s insane! Ed has been known to look at the signature of a letter first, just to know for sure who is writing to him! The year I bleached my hair blond, Ed came home from work and freaked out, thinking that his ex-wife was sitting at the piano in his house. No, it wasn’t Donni; maybe it was his ex-wife’s cousin? No, it wasn’t her either. “Kay????” I didn’t tell him I was going to bleach my long hair and cut it in a shag but from that time forward, if I’m going to have any major work done, I always give Ed fair warning before I go to the beauty shop.
- I will be turning 60 in just a few days. SIXTY??? You MUST be kidding!!! Where did the time go? I don’t FEEL sixty! I don’t think I look sixty! And I KNOW I sure don’t ACT sixty!!! Sigh. But at least I’m not alone. Another dear friend also just turned 60. Yes, we were born just days apart in adjoining states. How lucky I was to meet her. How lucky I am to call her family in my heart.
- Daughter Kim turned 50 in March. No, she doesn’t look it either, why ask? I still remember her at the age of 9, looking at me intently and saying “We saw a special film today in school.”
- Ed and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary back in February. We met in August, 41 years ago, but nothing developed. We met again on Election Night that year, were engaged by Christmas, and married in February. “Yeah, this married won’t last!” “She HAD to get married! Why else would they get married so fast?” I think those comments were from people I knew in Argyle but they were all wrong. We waited nine and a half years to have a child and we’ve now made it forty years. God, that sounds like forever, doesn’t it? But I’m proud that Ed stuck by me and I’ve stuck by him for all these years. It’s rare nowadays, I think. Of course, you could just call it being too stubborn to give up!
Sons Lee and Drake totally missed out on the decades but that just means they don’t have to share their year with anyone. I wonder if, secretly, they actually prefer it that way? Hmmm, I’ll have to ask them. I’ll let you know what I find out.
So this is our Year of Decades and it won’t come around again for another ten years. But family is always family, no matter the year, and possibly you weren’t even born into it. You see, a family is built in your heart, not in documents like a birth certificate or marriage license. My mom and her family taught me, not through talking but through deeds, that family is a precious gift, an insurance policy, and something definitely worth working hard to keep. I hope you are as lucky as I have been.