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A part of another family


December 5, 2011
Billie Shelton ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

If you think about it, it is truly an awesome thing to become part of another's family, as in when you get married. And there you have another whole set of relatives to enrich your life.

I just lost one of the five brothers I gained when we got married 30 years ago, and being at his visitation and funeral with all kinds of in-laws of all ages and stations of life got me to thinking about just what it means to be in your spouse's family, too, after you are wed. At the time, perhaps, it's not much of a consideration; after all, you're pretty much focused on the wedding and all that involves.

But eventually the wedding parties are over, the gifts are all put away, and there's real life. And you can't help being part of all that involves in your spouse's family as well as your own - the pleasures, the pains, and even the occasional pathos. I was the closest one available when my mother-in-law collapsed from a sudden heart attack, and I stayed with my father-in-law all that morning. He asked me to call the other six siblings to tell them their mother was gone.

Maybe that's when I felt included in the family. Or maybe it was something as simple as when my brothers-in-law teased me like they did everyone else.

I came into this family long after the brothers and sister - all but one older than me - were all married and had families of their own. So many to remember who came with whom. But eventually I was a part of the family. And I truly feel a loss in my heart for this brother-in-law who is gone now, the quiet, hospitable one I knew I could always count on. You just don't rush building a connection like that one.

Now I find myself looking at this whole concept of being part of two families from a different angle since our son is engaged. So he'll be in that family, too. After almost three decades of my family like it is, I'm pretty accustomed to the way things have always been. I'm not sure I want to share him, but then I do understand that this is how things are supposed to work. It's just that I have to get my head around all this.

I still remember some years back reading a piece by a mother whose young adult, newly married son was in the picture of his wife's family that came to her in a Christmas card. Even though she knew it was silly, this mom recounted how she almost resented that photo. Just what was her son doing in their family picture, when he was in her family?

I understand what she means. I know my son will be a fine son-in-law. It is an awesome thing to truly be part of another family.



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