My parents died when I was 21 and 26. My only uncle didn’t have children and didn’t know what to do with my younger brother and I, so he deserted us. We were never really close to begin with, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. That he flew home to take care of his dog within an hour after his only sister’s funeral wasn’t anything I paid much mine to until someone pointed out how inappropriate that was. There was a house full of my parent’s friends that I had to console. The fact that I was 26 and parentless didn’t come into my mind. My Mom taught me to be a good hostess and that is what I planned on doing.
As time went on, I lost my way in most areas of my life. I did finish college and moved to Atlanta. I got tired of people looking at me with puppy dog eyes, feeling sorry for me because my parents were dead. Interestingly, I liked being in control and manipulating people… I just didn’t want them initiating it.
As I settled into my life in Atlanta, I was meeting all kinds of people because of my diverse interests. I was invited to holiday meals, parties, and family events. At some point, and I don’t remember exactly when, I realized I had multiple invitations during various times of the year.
I’m sure there were people that invited me when they found out I was single and didn’t have local family. There are those that 30+ years later that I call my “family of choice”. God, spirit, the universe – whatever you want to call it – helped us find each other. I am not an obligation or a pity case. We truly feel like family even though we aren’t related. When people ask me about my family, I talk about my “family of choice”. Some stay focused on my blood family being gone (except for a cousin in New York). Those that “get it”, realize how blessed I truly feel. How many people feel obligated to invite blood relatives to holiday get-togethers and other family events? When I am invited to these homes, I know I am not a “must” invite but rather a “want to”. How awesome is that?
In my younger years whatever I had was never enough. Over time I’ve learned to want what I have rather than focusing on having what I want. There is always gratitude to be found in this mindset. I’m sure there are those that would believe I was justified if I chose to feel sorry for myself… divorced, parents and only sibling gone. However, knowing there are people who choose to have me in their lives is a great feeling… one I choose to focus on since I can’t change my family situation.