Thursday, June 05, 2008

Family Ties

I spent yesterday afternoon with Jenna and her maternal family mourning the loss of her grandmother. Nina's death was unexpected but not overly so. Still, a wake is a difficult event under any circumstances. I knew Nina - but not well. However, she is Jenna's grandmother and both she and Pam deserved my support during this time. When I arrived Jenna was visibly upset. This has hit her harder than she expected. Open caskets will do that. So, as she hugged me close she asked how long I was staying. I told her that I was here for as long as she needed me to be.
I paid my respects to the deceased and reacquainted myself with Jenna's cousins who, at 20 and above are no longer little girls. We did the whole "I haven't seen you since..." and "Gosh, you look great" to our satisfaction. Then we looked at a collage of pictures of Nina. She was a stunning young woman who looks very much like Pam's eldest daughter Leah. This started a lot of conversations about family and familial ties.
Throughout the course of these discussions I was surrounded at different times by Jenna's uncles.
Now, I have not seen Jenna's uncles in many years, perhaps not since Pam and I divorced. I had no idea what to expect when I saw them again.
After seeing them, I was right. It was not what I expected.
Each of them, in turn, took time to compliment me on what a great father I am to Jenna. Apparently Pam has been extolling my parental skills to them for years. Each was glad to know that I was actively involved in her life and willing to do what it takes to be a hands-on parent. They all appreciated my support of Pam throughout Jenna's life and that they were glad that I was still friendly with her. They complimented Jenna often, stating that she was so self-confident and so secure with herself. They were amazed at the young woman that she has become and all predict great things for her if she puts her mind to it.
While I was just a bit embarrassed I think they're correct. I am a good father. Pam is good mother. I am proud of the person that my daughter has become and I am proud of Pam and I for our hand in the process.
She and I worked very hard to be able to have the parental relationship that we have today. We've had our disagreements and we will probably have more of them but, more often then not, we are on the same page. At the end of the day our priority has always been our daughter and what is best for her. We worked hard to create a cohesive world for Jenna. In this I believe that we have succeeded admirably.
We are a family; Jenna, Pam and I. It may be unconventional, and it may not be a textbook definition of "family", but we are definitely a family.
Standing among Pam's siblings I felt like one of the family because I was treated as such. We were bound together by Nina; for without her my life would not be as it is today. Yesterday we came together as a very extended family to pay tribute and to say goodbye.
In doing so, I was reminded that I am a part of this family, too.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

What a great post friend. You truly are in a unique and wonderful situation. I admire that about you. I also admire Katie for being the woman that she is. He acceptance and support of your circumstances is phenomenal...which is a credit to her as well as your good judgment.

Jenna is all of those things and more....with parents like you three, I wouldn't expect anything less.

11:23 AM, June 05, 2008  
Blogger Letera said...

Is Katie your girlfriend? I am in the same position w/ my boyfriend. His wife and him are still friends and work well together for the girls sake. And he is also in a position of being a part of his last's wife family. She died and her family treats JJ w/ great respect and kindness.
Sorry for your loss. You sound like an awesome person. Keep up the good work.

1:39 PM, June 05, 2008  
Blogger Andy said...

Letera, Katie is my wife of seven years. Thank you for your kind words.

1:52 PM, June 05, 2008  
Blogger Summer Ryan Doyle said...

Beautiful post, Andy.

2:29 PM, June 06, 2008  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Prayers of love and support to you and all of your family during this time.

11:09 AM, June 09, 2008  

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