What Is A Family?

What Is A Family?What is a family?  The definition I have always held to would be: husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – which covers just about all the bases, right? Right. Well, I’ve lived awhile, and learned a little, and plan to continue to learn until the day I leave this world for another.  I am also open to a change of heart and change of definition, which is what this blog is about today.

Since I can first remember, my family was everything, all that was important in my world.  Our clan.  Our people.  Us.  As siblings, my brothers and I weren’t permitted to continue squabbles. Period.  It was “Kiss, hug, and say you’re sorry RIGHT NOW”, with no mumblings under the breath, and no dark looks at each other.

When one of us in the immediate family was in trouble, we all rallied around that person, giving support, and helping them see it through, whether it was a medical problem, school, financial, whatever.  We helped each other because we were “family.” When there was a bigger problem that needed more help, the whole clan stepped in and did what they could, because the clan is family.  The clan is uniformity, solidarity, one heart, the basis for our shared values.

ClanHowever, recently I’ve had a number of reality check moments in my life that opened my eyes to just exactly “What Is A Family?” Many of these incidents were uplifting and life-affirming. Unfortunately, others left me heartbroken and disillusioned.  I realized it was time to take another look at the word “family”, and in doing so, have changed my long-held definition.

In the most recent event, my daughter and son-in-law had to rush me to Emergency, because I suddenly developed a life-threatening health situation.  Luckily, I received treatment just in time and have been able to come home to recuperate.  Because of what occurred during and after that, I have widened my view of “family”.

There is my blood-family, defined by me as those with the same bloodline as myself.  There is my husband’s clan, or my in-law family.  There is also my extended family, gained through my daughter’s marriage – my son-in-law family.  They are all either directly related to me, or related by marriage.  Still another special group I now consider family – close friends, good neighbours, friendly acquaintances, and my cherished business partners.  Lastly, there is my virtual family consisting of people I may never have met face-to-face, and yet who are closely connected to me, and that is my Facebook and LinkedIn families.

FacebookFriendsIt was astonishing to me how many people responded to the news of my illness with prayers, text messages, cards, update requests, phone calls, e-cards, flowers, and visits when my health permitted.  I received one really unusual bouquet I fell in love with the minute it arrived – from my “son-in-law family”.  Every day new blooms appeared, and the colour and arrangement itself was spectacular.  Sitting in bed, I could just glance over and gaze at them, instantly feeling better.  I also received many messages of concern and encouragement, either directly, or relayed to me through my daughter.

Floral BouquetSocial media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with each other, and my Facebook site is limited mostly to friends and family.  Some of my blood-family, ironically those that you would think should be closest to me, probably still don’t know that I had this health crisis. Almost all of my friends knew, and my various in-law families, and they really lifted me up and out of a very bad place.  Even people I only knew peripherally enquired about me and wished me back to good health.  The encouragement, the loving care of my daughter and son-in-law day after day after day, really opened my eyes and my heart.

Hugh Thomson (1894)

Hugh Thomson (1894)

I now define “family” as those who truly care whether you live or die, or survive life’s harsh trials.  They are the ones who will rush to your rescue in times of need and will sacrifice in order to help you. Usually, they don’t even need to be asked, but when they are asked, they “step up”. If unable to do so, they will still make every effort to encourage and support you. Under this new definition, and with the exception of a few blood kin who remain close, I consider my “family” to include my husband’s people, my son-in-law’s people, some steadfast friends known since childhood and some just newly met, and finally, the people I’ve chosen to do business with.  I’ve even decided to include certain cats, dogs, and bunnies in this group because they love you unconditionally – some even “signed their names” to cards wishing me well and others have simply brought joy to my life! I especially love my daughter’s little bunny Cooper, who sacrificed having his “Mom” with him every day, so she could look after “Gran”.

Cooper waits patiently...

Cooper waits patiently…

My redefinition has given my heart and my life a boost of energy, and I thank God for each and every one of you who are now in my personal family/clan, and I look forward to extensions of that family in the future.

Family can be anyone who thinks warmly of you, cares about your well-being, aids you selflessly in times of need or “just because”, prays for you, attempts to lift your spirits or make you laugh.  If you have performed loving deeds or expressed caring thoughts to me, then you know who you are – You are my “Family.”  And I hope I’ve earned the right to be called yours as well.

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Hi!  Choosing music for my Mom’s “What Is A Family?” blog was easy. The difficult part was paring down so many choices to a manageable number! Most of the videos I’ve picked have the song lyrics shown, so go ahead and sing along. I did.

The first tune is James Taylor’s classic“You’ve Got A Friend

Here’s the famous “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.

Next is the great Ben E. King singing “Stand By Me”.

From TVs “Golden Girls”, it’s Andrew Gold with “Thank You For Being A Friend”.

From the movie “Home On The Range” here’s a song from The Beu Sisters – “Anytime You Need A Friend”.

This is country music’s wonderful Lady Antebellum with “Never Alone”.

A happy tune, “Count On Me” by Bruno Mars.  I dare you not to tap your toe along with it!

An old favourite of mine by The Pretenders called “I’ll Stand By You”.

For a 70s Flashback, here’s Sister Sledge with “We Are Family”.

Another newer favourite of mine, “Fix You” by Coldplay.

That’s an even 10. I could have posted so many more. Sorry if I missed your favourite but I ran out of room! 

Paws for AwhileAs I mentioned above, there are beloved pets, mine, and others, past and present, who I consider part of my “family” and here are a few of them.My daughter and son-in-law’s Cooper, as he is today, is shown above, but here is his “baby” picture!

Cooper at just 42 days old. That cute face and those button eyes tell the whole story of Cooper.

Cooper at just 42 days old. That cute face and those button eyes tell the whole story of Cooper.


My own dear departed Mickey

My own dear departed Mickey. Wise and affectionate.


My first sweet bunny Pippin

My first sweet bunny Pippin. Yes, he was named after the Lord of the Rings hobbit.


My daughter and son-in-law's first bunny Thumper

My daughter and son-in-law’s first bunny Thumper. The Great Adventurer.


Their second "wilderness rescue" bunny Pepper.

Their second “wilderness rescue” bunny Pepper. She was like Royalty!


My daughter's friend's beautiful cats Wellington and Keiren

My daughter’s best friend’s beautiful cats Wellington and Keiren


Milo, from my son-in-law's sister's family

Milo, from my son-in-law’s sister’s family. Still energetic after all these years!


O'Malley, from the same family...we miss you!

Precious O’Malley, from the same family…we miss you!


Bagerah & Fluffy , from son-in-law's second sister's family

Gorgeous Bagerah & Fluffy, from my son-in-law’s second sister’s family


Maggie, from the family of my niece-through-marriage

Steadfast and loving Maggie, from the family of my niece-through-marriage


Humphrey, from the family of another niece-through-marriage.

Fun-loving Humphrey, from the family of another niece-through-marriage.


And last, but definitely not least, here are Maliika, Muzby & Trevor, from daughter and son-in-law's, and my, friend's family from Australia

And last, but definitely not least, here are the ever-playful mischief makers Maliika, Muzby & Trevor, from the family of my daughter and son-in-law’s friends, and my friends too, from Australia

Signing off, with love and admiration for true family,

E. Joyce