I’m an only child. Just ask my sister.

If you asked my sister, she’d tell you I’m an only child.

That statement makes me giggle…now. Someone once said, “Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” The author is unknown, but I have found this quote to be true throughout my life’s journey, so I thank that person for saying it so simply, so directly. For I have built a fortress of family, person by person and soul by soul that stretches out and hugs its global members on a daily basis. I haven’t forgotten any of you…

My mom was and is “accidentally” the best parent for whom I could have asked. Many of you who know me have heard countless stories about my mom, Babes, as we affectionately call her. She’s always been there for me. Not HERE so much, always THERE, but while I was growing up, every time I let her know I needed her, she would grab her cigarettes and settle in to give me her undivided attention. I still morph into my imitation of her, almost channeling her delightful spirit, when I have something profound to say about a situation or to lighten the burden of finding the funny in tragic or absurd experiences. Thanks, Babes.

Andre Maurois wrote in The Art of Living, “Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles in the cold.” Maybe that’s why I’ve been blessed with finding family wherever I go. YOU CAN TOO!  I don’t want anyone feeling alone in the world, trembling in the cold, nor do I want that for myself. Maybe it’s because two of the most important people in the world to me, the two genetic family members I love more than I love myself and thought I was supposed to take care of, didn’t seem to want me in their lives as much as I wanted to be there, so I had to put all of this love inside of me somewhere. I also had a choice to make. Do I leave them alone, respect their apparent choices, lovingly give them what they asked for and wish them well? Or do I find strength and set an example of how powerful love and surrender can be? Do I turn it around and push my way into their lives anyway, love them SO BIG because that’s how I love, as though we are really living in the same home, never truly leaving their side, always a few steps away ready to jump in and rescue them from harm, only a phone call away, a flight or a drive away, and sometimes just a whisper away? Never THERE, always HERE for them? You bet! I chose the latter…

HERE’S THE FUNNY: If I could have a family photo, my sister would be one of those blank body cutouts they put as placeholders (and I would make hers really tall and skinny because she would like that). Babes would be holding a cigarette and a drink, looking in a different direction as though the photographer were standing in a different spot. It would have my son, Adam, and his family, looking right at me, lovingly. My “chocolate” family would be there, front and center (thank you Willie C., Stanley, Ray and Nate). The rest of the family would be all fabulous colors and cultures from Colorado, Texas, California, Croatia, Costa Rica, Missouri, Montana, Cleveland (hi Eileen), New York (hugs Colleen), Canada (hey Krista), London, Arizona, West Virginia, Kansas, Illinois, Papua New Guinea…and then the green grass beneath their feet would go on forever in some grand panoramic shot…leaving room for more family members yet to come. Can hardly wait to meet all of you…

What would your family photo look like? I KNOW you are building a family along your journey just as I am. I’ll bet lots of people already think of you as family and you might not even realize it. That’s a good feeling, isn’t it? That means that no matter what, you are not “…alone in the world, trembl[ing] in the cold.” Neither am I. Thank you. GoTerriGo!