Friday, May 17, 2013

Families are funny things

Jacob, between his mom, left, and his Aunt Dylan

I know families where siblings don't get along, where sometimes one person or another is totally estranged from the family. It breaks my heart, even in Ann Landers column, to read about children who are estranged from their parents--to me, that is a tie that binds. I am so blessed that my four children love me, care for me, and love each other. They jump at every opportunity to be together, and their children, my grandchildren, are growing up to think all families are loud, rowdy and lots of fun. They love it. And nobody ever leaves me out of the fun.
But I am blessed in another way. Divorce often muddies the water and complicates things, as it did in my life. When my ex left, he remarried and fathered a daughter, Dylan, who somebody told me is now twenty-nine. I can't believe that. But since she was a teen, Dylan and I have had a good relationship--she liked the fact that I am a writer; I like the fact that she has from an early age been interested in liberal causes and talked intelligently about them. A lawyer, she always works for non-profits (where she is probably almost non-profit) and does pro bono work. She cooks, and she grows vegetables on the family acreage. She loves to hear stories of her siblings.
Dylan arrived this evening, with her Aunt Karan, whom I've known forever--married to Dylan's mother's brother. I wish I could remember the convoluted way Karan once described our relationship because it was hysterical--something about her second husband being the brother of my ex's second wife, only more complicated. Today Karan hurried back to her home in the suburbs, and Dylan, Jordan, and I had a drink in the back yard with Jacob and Sophie running around. A good, happy time, talking about all kinds of things from dogs (Dylan is as much a softie as I am and helped medicate Sophie's scratched cornea) to cooking to stories about her dad. I think it's healthy that we can both talk about him without acrimony, and that we hug and tell each other, "It's good to see you."
I remember Dylan as a child. One night my children and I were all in Dallas--the kids to have dinner with their dad and me for a book event. When they picked me up, the kids asked if Dylan could come home with us for the night. I said of course, and in the car that child, who was maybe six, said, "I've been waiting all my life to do this!"
I'm not sure how to describe my relationship to her, except that she's my children's half-sister, but I know that our friendship is yet another blessing of my life. And Jacob adores his Aunt Dylan, was so excited about her visit. She has promised to sleep in his bed tonight--I tried to warn her but she just laughed.
Thanks, Dylan, for being who you are.

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