The family that chooses you
I am an only child.
I guess I drove my parents so incredibly insane that they dared not even consider having another one.
I was always jealous of the kids who had brothers and sisters at home.
They always had someone to laugh with, play with, fight with and someone to explore the mysteries of the world with, and I envied that.
My parents divorced when I was very young and I lived with my mother and visited my father on the weekends.
My mom became very close friends with a woman named Diane.
Also a single mom, Diane had a son just a year older than me.
Because our moms spent so much time together, Randy and I became more like siblings than friends.
In fact, we started telling other people that we were, actually, brother and sister.
I think we even convinced ourselves.
I remember playing and pretending for hours on end with him.
He recently told me about a time when he was a "puppy" and I was the "master" and his puppy food consisted of a bowl of pennies that I forced him to eat.
While I have no recollection of this event, I am glad to see that he came through it unscathed.
Of course, we fought like cats and dogs, swearing that we wanted nothing more to do with each other; however, when the next day came around, there was always much crying and begging until our moms let us play together once again and any anger or hurt feelings was long forgotten.
After high school, Randy joined the military and I ended up moving to Carbon County, leaving my real and pretend family two hours away, which might as well have been two states away.
Many were the times that I felt alone and disconnected from my roots.
While Randy and I would sometimes go for years without seeing each other, a simple phone call every now and again was all that was needed to fire up that connection.
When we did get to visit, it was always a cherished and special time.
I can't tell you how heartwarming it has always been to have this imaginary family bond that feels perfectly real to me.
The love between my brother and I is strong and unconditional.
Each of us knows that the other would drop everything at a moment's notice and run to be at the other's side should the need ever arise.
I was so happy to have the opportunity to see my brother last weekend at a cookout held at his home back in Bucks County. I hadn't been in that particular area for decades and what was once familiar, now felt foreign.
We found his house and quickly made our way to the back yard.
The yard was filled with dozens of unfamiliar faces, but as soon as I saw Randy, I knew I was home.
To this day, I am still his "little sis" and his adult children refer to me as "Aunt Sheri."
Together we ate some great food, shared a few laughs and admired and adored each other's grandbabies.
It felt more comfortable and natural being with him than it did with some of my own flesh and blood.
We have all heard the old adage "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family."
I think, sometimes, your family chooses you.
Driving home after our little visit, I rolled down the window and turned to the radio.
While my husband and daughter slept in the car I thought about the events of the day.
I caught my reflection in the rear view mirror and my face was beaming.
Although my visit with Randy was brief, it was enough to fill me, in stomach and spirit, and everything in my life that felt alien and out of balance was made right once again.
I need to make time for that two-hour drive more often.