Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Flashback: Branson, Missouri and my family

I was looking back at old family photos today. Just like most people, my family is confusing and complicated. It's the funniest thing for me when people ask if I'm an only child. Really, I sort of am. My mom was a single mom after my father passed (I was two) up until she re-married. I believe I was about 7? I'm not exactly sure. They didn't have a wedding ceremony but for all intents and purposes they were and are still, married. Once that major change happened, I gained two step brothers. Again not exactly sure but I believe they are about 20-ish years older than me. We never lived together and I they only really came around every now and then. The youngest of my stepdad's two sons was married and then divorced after two kids. His wife was the closest thing I had to a sibling. Also a lot older than me, she always treated me like a little sister. Plus, she and her two daughters lived with us off and on for a majority of my childhood - and definitely during my formative years. She eventually passed away but I call her sister and always will.
During the same time, my stepdad and mom adopted my stepdad's great nephew over the course of about...oh 4 years or so. He started out coming on weekends, then weekends and summers, then stayed with us for like 4 months once I think and went back. His mother had issues and he was always being shuffled around. Finally, enough was enough and my parents were able to take him for good. He was 10 years old and I was 18. Since I moved out just before my 19th birthday, he soon got my room and settled right in. Good timing cause it saved my mom from experiencing empty nest syndrome. Anyway, I always wanted to be a sister to him like my sister was to me and I tried - a lot. But it's not that easy when you didn't fully grow up together. And it's not that easy when there's an 8 year age difference. And when you are such different people. Still, I tried. These days, he's such a grown up. 22 years old, in school, with a daughter, in process of finding himself, it's amazing to watch.
So, am I an only child? yeahhhh not really. Anyway a year and some change after he came to live with my parents full time we took a family vacation in Branson Missouri. Number one vaca spot for the good old people of Oklahoma. Branson offers it's tourists Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park with live music, the landmark Marvel Cave and Dolly Parton’s Wild West-style Dixie Stampede dinner theater. What fun. I think these photos are from about 2006. The lovely woman in green up top is my mom's closest friend. She is a second mom to me and such a beautiful soul. So clever and funny. She has a purr of a voice and impeccable grammar. Two moms and two dads (real that passed and step).  Doesn't my mom look beautiful? She's always sporting a beautiful, glowing tan. I love when she wears white. And my dad! Haha a silly look of course. He saved me. I really don't know what kind of a whiny self-centered brat I would be without him.
And look at my brother. I can't believe that kid. I really feel lucky to be his sister. Just for fun, here we are - blurry - at his high school graduation. I held him as a newborn and look at him now.

I feel so blessed to have these people. I don't see them as often as I'd like to and we aren't maybe as close or reliant on each other as boyfriend's family, but they are my favorite. I wouldn't exchange them for all the money in the world. It doesn't matter where I am in the world or what I'm doing, I can call them and they'll be there in their country house in Oklahoma moving the lawn, working on a car, reading a book - loving life. My mom can find joy in anything. My dad can make you laugh on your death bed. My brother listens with his whole heart - and it's gold. And Sonnie tells the best stories, she carries the world's lessons in her mind. I'm such a lucky girl :)