06 January 2014


My mom sent me this photo taken at a family gathering in a small mountain village in northern Italy. Cousins. Years ago a met a few of them. If I showed up and announced who I was, who I belonged to, I’d be welcomed with open arms, fed, housed and fed some more. And I’m not even related by blood. My step-dad is related to these people, I'm not sure how, the family lines get murky so cousins covers it.

Around the table are a few of my kids (dark hair) and my three half siblings (light hair). The last time we were together was two years ago for our father’s funeral. We recently gathered together with their mom and her new husband.  My oldest half sibling is the same age as my youngest child. Technically they are aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews.  The kids get confused especially the seven year old “uncle” to the twenty-five year old “niece”.  Cousins fits better. A less completed way to explain the connection.

Here is my some of my family with my mother-in-law’s cousin’s child and her husband and their children. Something like my husband’s second cousin once removed. Not sure what my kids would call her kids. We opt for cousins. We get together as often as we can. This is so much easier to do now that we both live in the same state.

On paper the blood relationship my family has with each of these people is thin to non-existent. In the heart the feelings run thick. And for me causes my breath to catch and tears to form when I think of how many people I get to love. I see beautiful golden threads linking between all of us, entwining us and holding us close throughout this generation, the generation gone before, and the generations yet to be. 

What special "heart connections" do you have? People you think of as family though the genetic connection might be thin.