Yesterday my family paid their final respects to a wonderful lady. Kate was my dad’s ex-wife and the mom of my three oldest siblings. I am the youngest of 6 children. All six of us have the same dad but not the same mom. Confused? So are a lot of people. You throw in my dad’s stepdaughter who is the sister of my three oldest sibling (they have the same mom but not the same dad) and people begin to ask for diagrams to figure out who belongs to whom. What adds to the confusion is the age difference between the siblings…my oldest sister is old enough to be my mom (but don’t tell her I said that…she would deny it seeing how she’s been known to lie about her age). All of this does not confuse us because when you get down to the heart of the matter, we all see ourselves as family. And when I say “we” I mean my mom and dad and Kate and her husband and all the kids and grandkids. We were close and spent our holidays together. As a kid we would go to Kate’s birthday party on New Years Day. I officiated Kate’s husband Bob’s funeral (my dad’s ex-wives husband) and to us it all seemed perfectly normal. We never used the term half –brothers or sisters. In fact I would bristle when that word would be used. We were a “modern family” before modern families were cool. We weren’t perfect by any means. In fact, if you looked up the word dysfunction in the dictionary, you would see our picture next to it. The stories I could tell…the stories we all could tell…
Driving home from the funeral yesterday, I stopped at Lakeview Beach and just sat and watched Lake Erie. Fall is in full gear. The beach was empty and hundreds of sea gulls sat on the beach to get away from the tumultuous lake. It was a perfect picture day of how I was feeling…sad and bleak. I was overwhelmed from the day. And could not shake the overwhelming sense of loss. The Strickler table was shrinking. The faces of the family members we have lost in the past 10 ½ years came flooding back. My dad was one of seven and he had six kids plus a stepdaughter so you could see how big my family is. I moved back to Vermilion 10 and half years ago and since then 14 family members have passed away. I have officiated 11 of those 14 funerals. And each one that has passed has left a void. A dad. A brother. Aunts. Cousins. Brother-in-law. Now a step-mom? No…Kate wasn’t that…they were married before I was born…not an aunt or a cousin…she was simply family.
And as I sat there two Scriptures came to mind. In Psalm 139, King David talks about how we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That even in our mother’s womb God knew us; He formed us, He knit us together and He knows us. And then my favorite…Psalm 103, which says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all of His benefits (His blessings).” I am thankful for my family. That God made each one unique. That we were fearfully and wonderfully made. And He placed us all together in the same, crazy family. I am thankful that even through the tough times and the fights and the hurts that God has used my family to help shape me into the person I am today. I am thankful for my modern family.