Saturday, May 23, 2009
The Amazing Journey of Gabe & Me
One of the interesting outcomes of having married a man 12 yrs older than myself is that along with my husband came four step kids, two of which were closer to me in age than my spouse. Larry's oldest son, Darrin, is now 44. He married at 39 to a dynamite lady named Kris who just happened to have an 18 yr old son. That son had a son shortly there after, the young man you see pictured here - Gabriel. This means that without ever having been a parent himself, Darrin went straight forward to the fun part, being a GRANDPA. Kris & Darrin get Gabe nearly every weekend and have many fun adventures with him.
Today I got to have an adventure of my own with Gabe, hiking up the creek, naming rocks, making bridges for squirrels, examining lichen and appreciating stink bugs. We had a blast. It seems odd at the ripe old age of 51 to be considered any one's great-grandmother. But that's what Gabe knows me as. Maybe it is stretching the point a bit since I'm merely the step-mother of his step-grandfather. Clearly, there are no blood ties between myself and this young man. But family ties have far more to do with choice and aknowledgement and commitment to one another than they do with who begat who.
The ties we build while having "a journey in the wilderness" (as Gabe called it) together in the woods count for so much more than genetics.
I had a great day today visiting with cousins and kin of all sorts ...some with bonds of blood, some united by marriage, some merely affiliated by choice. We looped around through all the incarnatons of "step", and "half", inlaw and outlaw...but all one amazing FAMILY.
This reunion reminded me very much of a different gathering from many years back...when I was a young mother with two little boys celebrating the 100th birthday of my own great grandmother. I described that in a story for Ensign magazine back in 1990 called The Tapestery Called Family.
We are primed by our families of origin to establish certain expectations about what it means to be a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, or any other relationship. Because of my own experiences with MY great grandmother my initial assumptions of that role is to think of someone who is old, frail, disengaged from life. But just as I have chosen to have a very different style of marriage and very different parenting style from those of my parents and grandparents, I will also begin brand new traditions in this role.
I look forward to exploring and expanding what it means to be a great grandma to Gabe and all the others who come after him when my own grandchildren start families of their own. Kaylie is now 14 with other siblings following, so in another 10 to 15 years I expect there may be several new faces in the mix. I'm up for it. I think I make an awesome great grandma.