Growing up I had a whole other family that lived next door. They were my second family. If I was not at home, I was at their house. It was amazing to have two families that loved me. With this second family, I had another set of parents, three older brothers and an older sister. As they watched me grow up, I watched them grow into adults. Richard Bach said it best “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life”.
I was never very close with my oldest brother because when I was young he was probably already old enough to be my dad (lol). My middle and youngest older brothers were very close like siblings should be. I was at their house Christmas morning when my middle brother proposed to his now wife. It was the sweetest thing. He gave her a Precious Moments figurine that said: “Check yes or no.” Then there was the time when he needed a talking Pee Wee Herman doll for a B96 contest. I was just the person he needed! Oh, the memories…
The youngest of my older brothers was my idol and I worshiped the ground he walked on. He gave me a Mickey Mouse phone when I was little and this phone got me into a lot of trouble! It would make me call people and hang up on them. It would call Santa Claus. I think that phone even racked up the phone bill. I swear it was the phone’s fault. It definitely was not my fault!
Finally, there was my bonus older sister and the person I still look up to. She helped me learn how to read when I struggled with it in school. She was my best friend and when I was a teenager I wanted to be just like her. Hell, I still do! When I was young and saw her tanning in the yard I would run to lay out in the sun with her. Looking back on it now, I was more intruding on her tanning, but she never made me feel like that. The morning after her prom, I hung out with her friends. I was super little at the time and they wanted “Micky” to come next door for breakfast. It’s an marvelous feeling to be accepted by a group of teenagers when so young. I stood up to her wedding, helped her with her wedding to do list and once after she had her first child, I stayed at her house with her because her husband was out of town for work. I wanted to be her. I hope I make her proud with the woman I have grown to be.
My second dad and I would bake together. He made KILLER chocolate chip cookies and I miss those chocolate chip cookies. He worked for the City of Chicago on the bridges. When the bridges didn’t work we knew he was not working. Hell they went to crap after he retired. His personality would light up the room when he was present just like my own father.
My second mom and I would hang out when no one was home. I went to work with her at the Children’s hospital for a charity event for Toy’s r Us. I remember the first time I dyed my hair and I wore a hat to cover the orange. She did not by the “sporty look” told me I had till the time I left to explain why I had a hat on. I could not get anything past her when I was younger and I believe I still can’t.
My second parents moved away around the time I started driving. I even helped them move into their new house in Indiana. I would visit them whenever I could and also around holidays. However, as I grew up, the dynamics changed. The youngest of my old brothers and I lost touch. I miss the relationship we had but I do see updates on his life on Facebook. My second oldest brother and I became close within the last few years. He was one of the few people that knew about my choice for adoption and the domestic abuse I suffered through. He was there for me when I was living a double life. My older sister and I communicate on Facebook. She is an amazing mom to three amazing girls. She is still someone I want to be like, still my role model till this day. My second dad passed away when I was in my 20’s. My second mom is still alive and well. She keeps busy by traveling between my other siblings’ homes.
One thing I learned was that when things got rough and life was not easy, my second family was there for me. My Christmas of 2014 was a lot brighter because of them. They were selfless thinking of the kids and I when we were going through such a difficult time. Their generosity went above and beyond what I ever expected. The best part was their support was not out of pity for what my life had become or what I was struggling through. They supported me out of a feeling of love. They showed me that no matter what LOVE will conquer all.
It does not matter how many miles, how many years went by or what happens in your life—Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what. God blessed me with the best second set of family anyone could have imagined.