I remember the exact moment I loved the woman my dad married, when the grieving years for my mom had passed.

It was during brunch. The day after their wedding. All the kids had come over to join them for a meal. She had two and my dad had us three. The spring sunshine was still only gaining momentum and Pete and I had a flight booked back to the States later that afternoon. She seemed nice enough. And she was certainly good for him. But she was hardly family, impossible as it was to connect from an ocean away.

The food was very good. Hearty South African style farmhouse breakfast. Eggs and bacon, boerewors and steak. Toast, scones, butter and jam. Champagne and orange juice – standard brunch fare.

We were polite. We laughed and listened and felt pleased that we had survived the event.

The waiter was overly chatty. And out of the blue, he stopped – tray in hand- and said to my dad’s new wife, “Wow – but you sure have a lot of kids now, hey?” We all heard. I bit down on my jaw and looked away at the far blue sky and the mountain range. My tummy did an unhappy little flip. We were that kind of family now. Different. Odd. Uncomfortable.

But she? She didn’t miss a beat.

She grinned big and wide and relaxed and said, “Yes! Aren’t I so blessed?”

And I could feel myself sinking into the arms-spread-wide-welcome. And that was it. Family. Captured in a moment. The rest has been rich, real, relational history in the making.

***

{This post was inspired by my friend, Bianca, who is about to open her arms to two new beautiful kiddos}

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