Life Stories: My family has found its own definition

What is family?

The Webster Dictionary definition is right to the point, "a group of people living together and functioning as a single household, usually consisting of parents and their children; all of the people descended from a common ancestor."

Compared with this definition, my family bears more similarity to the script of a soap opera, with many entangled and intertwined limbs on the family tree; not all of us bearing the same ancestors, and some of us having been separated for many years.

But still, we are family.

A boys foundling home was where it all began, the home of my dad until the age of 7. He was adopted by a fine family and he found himself growing up with uncles, aunts, sisters, and of course most importantly, his newly adoptive mom and dad. His adoptive parents gave him the love and support that no one ever had and always taught him the importance of making the family name proud.

His life was quite rich, brought out by two distinct talents; his love for the piano and his desire to fly planes which would be utilized when he served in World War II, piloting the wounded back from Europe to the United States.

As time went on, our family tree grew but not without limbs being broken. My dad had two sons with his first wife. Remarriage gave his two sons a baby sister. It didn't matter that our family was not what the dictionary described as all living in one house but rather had we had weekends and holidays together and the love that we were taught to respect gave us the strength to get by.

Then the family tree began experiencing falling branches. My older brother got married and had two boys, then divorced. The boys moved with their mom to California and were raised there. He also had a daughter from a second broken marriage, who was given up for adoption. My other brother enlisted in the Air Force. His passion also was flying, which he made his career, just as Dad had done so many years ago, and he was traveling around the world.

After I lost my oldest brother back in 1978 and my second brother became stationed in Japan, it was just dad and I, holding onto what we had left. Dad and I had a bond stronger than ever in the days and months and years which passed.

After Dad passed on, I turned around and found myself alone, my family dispersed about in all directions. Any links to my brother's children were long gone. It seemed our family had gotten lost along the way without connection to one another. My heart ached for the family that I had lost.

It was when things were changing so fast with the Internet revolution that I received a phone call that would reunite our family again. The two boys that were now grown, out of our lives for so long, were in touch. Without modern technology that could have never occurred, connecting us thousands of miles across the continent. My heart was filled with love for these boys that I missed so dearly. Interestingly, not too long after that another call came, from the niece that I had known to be given up for adoption, and never got to know. It was then I believed that faith and love had brought my nephews and niece together, whom had so long ago gone on their own way.

What I found most amazing, was those two little boys and little girl were so remarkably like us still; their traits, talents and looks strongly bonded them to their past. One nephew had become a musician and the other loved flying. Neither had an inkling of the similarity of their talents to their paternal grandfather. I discovered that family continues on sometimes, without us even knowing it.

We enjoyed the most wonderful Thanksgiving that year as we all gathered in one house. It was a miracle, the family that was once lost filled the table settings adorned with so much love, and we just knew we were family for life.

My family is growing every day with new additions and with the help of the new social networks, we are keeping our branches of the family tree strong and beautiful.

~

Vicki Jo Indrizzo-Valente lives in Mystic.

~

Life Stories is a print and online feature in which readers (male and female) share first-person experiences, observations and reflections. Grace offers modest compensation for the entries we print. For more information, or to submit a 500-650 word essay, email f.trafford@theday.com. To see past entries, visit http://www.theday.com/section/gracecolumns

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