There are still lots of students who are fortunate in having a traditional family of two parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters. In this paper I will discuss two other families that are also important in my life.
When I was growing up, of course I was aware of my immediate family. But once or twice a year I gradually became aware of a second family of mine: my aunts and uncles, and their kids, my cousins. I remember once, when I was still very young, during one visit, watching my uncle laughing and smoking a cigarette, the thought struck me with real force how lucky I was to have this second branch of the family. It was a new thought. It was like striking gold.
In parallel to this second family, there is a third. They are some of the work-friends of my father. He has known some of them since his own college days, where he and one of the best of these friends dated the same girl for a while (and her name lives on as a joking legend during gatherings). I have grown up with their kids. This group still gets together every year and the original bunch probably will continue to do so until they can’t anymore. Whether us younger ones will remains to be seen. Probably we will for awhile, just to continue the tradition.
All three of these families have provided a real sense of permanence while I was growing up, but I think it’s revealing that my second and third families haven’t met. My second families have their own third families I’ve never met. That’s good. It shows that friendship isn’t a rare quality to be overused. It’s an abundant commodity there for the taking. To me, that’s essential.