Last week my Mom's father... no he wasn't a grandfather or grandpa to me, passed away. From what I know it was a relatively sudden and short-term illness, but I also didn't ask a lot of questions about the details. Why? At almost 28 years old, I'd never met him. The situation of my mom's family has always been an interesting one, but I'll explain it the best I can.
My mom was the second oldest daughter of eleven kids. To hear her tell stories of her childhood, it still makes me smile. She was a daddy's girl, had tons of fun with her sisters and was as horse-crazy then as I am now. When she got older, graduated, and moved out on her own, she stopped attending church services with her family. Eventually, she distanced herself further from the church and dropped her membership. This was not a favorable practice and the elders of the church told her parents and family that if she chose to leave the faith that they were to presume her dead. Rough, huh?!?
She lived essentially with no nuclear family until she met and married my Dad and was welcomed into his family. *Side Note-This side of the family is the only one we ever did anything with growing up..holidays, birthdays, Mother's Day, etc. When my parents were married, nothing fancy or elaborate, they went to the courthouse and had a small reception at my Dad's parents house. Looking back at photos of that day, there are pictures of the newly married couple with my Mom's parents. Come to find out this weekend at the funeral the story goes: Her parents chose to come a celebrate with their daughter, but after that day, again the elders of the church said "No more! This is it!" And with that she was 'dead' again to her family. Over the course of the last 28 years, I've seen my Mom sought out by some of her family members when they were confused about God, religion, and their lives. I've also seen these family member's build her up and knock her down when they leave her again and go back to the church. Thankfully, my Mom does have three brother's who have also left the religion over the course of the last fifteen years or so and they have managed to grow close again. The four of them and each of the families consistently get together once a month and have "Family Game Night".
If I've learned one thing living through this saga with my mom and her family is that having the same genes as someone doesn't make them your family. Family means loving unconditionally, being there whenever you need them, and having their support when you're feeling down and out or on top of the world! I'm so blessed to have the unconditional support and love of the people I truly consider my family!