What Makes a Family?

For the past several days, my family has been hosting the family of a very good friend.  He and I met as first-year law students in the fall of 1983.  We’ve been buddies ever since.  He was my best man in 1991.  He has lived on the east coast, I have lived on the west coast.  Our oldest daughters both graduated from high school this past spring and will be heading off to college within the next three or four weeks.  But where my girls have been living a sheltered easy life, his girls have had to deal with a bit more.  They have a loving and talented brother who happens to also be autistic.

While spending several days with this family, and especially spending all day with them yesterday as we hiked for hours through Muir Woods, I realized that a family is not shared material goods or even shared genetic material.  A family is the willingness to care for one another.  A family is setting aside one person’s desires in order to take care of another’s needs.  A family is a serious discussion about the relative merits of Belle vs Pocahontas vs Mulan vs Snow White.

A family is love.

I feel honored and humble to have seen such love up close and personally over the course of the past five days.

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