My wife Darlene is creative. I don’t pretend to always understand her creativity, and as a card-carrying member of latter day homo sapiens, male division, am probably not meant to understand it. She can seemingly make anything from dresses, shirts, costumes, cookies, pies, you name it. About the only thing I can make is a mess – but I’ve found my strength and have pretty much perfected it.
Darlene made the bridesmaid’s dresses for our number two daughter’s wedding (that’s a long, painful story). She’s always concocting something, and while I may not get it, eventually will come to appreciate it. I’m in awe of her.
Prior to our wedding, she came up with the idea of having each of us and our four children represented by differently colored sand. The concept was to have each of us pour a bit of our pre-selected sand into a larger heart-shaped bottle, while retaining another portion in our own bottles to represent ourselves as whole people. In this way, each of us became part of each other, and it would be nearly impossible to separate us again.
And that’s the point.
We chose to come together as a family. That has a special significance that isn’t necessarily true of the family you’re born into.
I was fortunate to have been adopted by my Dad on my sixth birthday. He and my Mom married almost 57 years ago, when I was a bit more than two years old. Long ago, Mom started telling me that Dad chose me. He knew what he was getting and decided to go for it, anyway. I’m sure it was really because he thought Mom was hot and I was like the toy in the Crackerjack box, but it was one of those things that she made sound believable. It gives a kid a real sense of being special to think that he didn’t just end up with what he got, but that he was wanted for himself. So for as long as I can remember, adoption has had a special place in my heart.
That was one reason I was simpatico with Darlene’s son, Joe. Although he was a young adult when we met, we both seemed to appreciate the other for the closeness of our relationship with his mother. Once it was obvious that she and I were going to be more than just casual dates, and we saw the type of person each was, it was good. He knew his Mom was safe and happy, and that was really all he was concerned with. Once I knew he was a man of character, that was all I was concerned with. In essence, we adopted each other.
Once Dar introduced Joe and Kylee and me, I knew there was going to be a test. Kylee’s test was, um, unique – but then, so is she. At the time, she had a couple of iguanas, a bearded dragon, a snake and a couple of tree frogs. I’m sure there were other members of the menagerie, but this covers the more important ones. At Dar’s apartment one night, Kylee was showing off the tree frogs when one leapt from her hand onto my face. I started laughing, which probably put her at ease knowing it didn’t freak me out.
My original kids, Amanda and Michael, were a bit more of a challenge. They had endured a rather bitter separation and divorce a few years previous, and were naturally suspicious of any new entanglements. It took a while, but all of us have reached a point where we’re all comfortable with each other. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few bumps along the way, but with time and maturity rearing its ugly head all of the kids seem to have grown together and truly become a family. And I can truthfully say that if it weren’t just a tad weird (and really expensive), I would have adopted both Joe and Kylee.
That bottle becomes more beautiful each day.