Monday, November 23, 2009

Silk-Shealy-Vaughn-Blanc-Eastman-Johnson-Bailey-Jenkins: My Family

This will be the first Thanksgiving without my Dad. Not Bio-Dad mind you, but Brit-Dad. (For a full differentiation, see, but Brit-Dad was my stepfather).

Among others, one of my best friends, Maria, and her brother and aunt will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year. Maria is Argentinian, and of course does not make the long trek to South America for an American holiday. Last year she joined us, and it is quickly becoming tradition for her to do so every year. Aside this from being an assurance that we actually see each other once a year, she has (as a few of my friends have) quickly become a part of the family. Maria was with us for Dad's last Thanksgiving, and was fortunate enough to get to know him a little before he died. Like everyone who met him, she was enamored by his quick wit, jovial disposition, and general ability to see the humorous side of any given situation, and poke fun at those who couldn't.

With everything that's happened in the past year (the death of my Dad, my divorce), I've really come to a new understanding of what family really is. Of course I will be saying nothing new here, and as cliche'd a time to discuss the meaning of family this may be, the cliche' makes the statement no less true.

My closest friends - Sam, Maria, Yarnell, have seen the absolute worst of me. They've seen me through the brightest and darkest times of my life over the past few years, and are still there. They have exhibited unconditional love, and that is the purest definition of family.

Those who know both my mother and me well will probably tell you that aside from looks (that are decidedly Shealy), I inherited everything from my mother. And with that side of the family, I have much in common. But here's the thing - I'm not blood-related to any of them (aside form of course my Mom and Bio-Sis). My mother was adopted, as were my two first cousins. My English family is technically related through marriage, and yet I could tell you a trait I share with each of them. From this family to the relationship I have with my closest friends, I can tell you that family has absolutely nothing to do with DNA.

My Dad was not my biological father (though I am in the process of building some of the relationship with Bio-Dad that I lacked growing up), but he was very much my father. He shaped who I am today in so many ways. I see him in me all the time, even sometimes when I glance in the mirror. He taught me to question everything, to challenge even the seemingly obvious. He taught me to scratch the surface of any situation, disregarding any assumed facts. He helped teach me by example to get over my shyness by not taking myself so seriously.

Don't get me wrong - I have plenty in common with the Shealys, aside from looks. I notice it whenever I'm around my aunts, or when my sister and I have our rare-but-wonderful times away from everybody else. But so much of my character comes from the Silk side, so much of my early molding comes from the Davis side, so many of my values come from the Johnson-Eastman-Blanc side, that I could never claim one particular family as my own.

But I am extraordinarily grateful for them to have claimed me.


Mandy said...

Very nice blog on family and how it is not defined by genetics. So very true in our "family".

Sam said...

It is our privilege to claim you, Will! And I am glad to be a part! Love, always. XOXO

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