My parents were married 37 years – and yet I would still say I come from a broken home. I won’t go into the details of why here, now, because they are inconsequential. I only tell you that to emphasize the importance of the rest of what I am about to say:
I was 14 when I met Susie. I was quite bitter having just moved from Florida to The Colony, Texas where I felt I was an instant outcast. I had been happy, popular, and was days away from attending a Fine Arts High School when my parents decided to move our family. And even though I still sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had I stayed there, I know the move was worth it.
Susie was also a new kid and we bonded immediately. I spent nearly every weekend at her house and quickly became a part of the family. I call her parents Mom and Dad and to me, her brother and sister are my brother and sister. I spent holidays and even family vacations with them. I was one of them and I cherished that (and still do).
When life became to difficult for me to continue living at home, I moved in with Susie’s family – even though she had moved to Austin for school. And although I would move out, I always came back home. Because that is what her family was to me. Home. They have been with me through all my life’s major events: Susie was my Maid of Honor for my first wedding – Mom was my Matron of Honor. Mom babysat my twin boys for me when I had to return to work. Susie listened to me without judgement or complaint for countless hours when my life fell apart. And Susie was my Matron of Honor at my second wedding – Mom and Dad were in attendance.
Susie has a large extended family and I think I have met most of them. And although I treasure knowing or having known each and every one of them, one of my favorite people passed away this week. Susie’s grandfather was a kind, funny man that welcomed me into the family. Susie called him Poppi and that is what I have always called him. As I grew older with my own family it became harder for me to squeeze in another holiday gathering. I may not have seen my other family as much as I once did but I always kept tabs on them.
I would not say Susie’s family is or was perfect – that is too hard a label to put on anyone. But they all know how loved they are and that is a special gift. They know what they mean to each other. Her family showed me what I could have in my life. And thanks to them, I do.
Rest in peace Poppi. You were a wonderful man that helped to raise a kind and loving family. I feel richer having known you. You were a part of my family and you will be missed as family.