There is a jewelry box on my dresser that isn’t particularly functional or pretty, and it certainly isn’t worth much in dollars and cents. But it once sat on the dresser of my grandmother, making it as precious as gold to me. I also treasure the pair of diamond earrings that I keep there. Like the box itself, they wouldn’t garner a hefty price on any jewelry store counter, but because they once adorned the ears of my Memom, to me, they are priceless.
But as much as I cherish these keepsakes left to me by two of the women I have loved most in my life, the hand-me-down I treasure most is what I learned from them about family. Neither of my grandmothers had an ideal childhood. They both grew up extremely poor and had experiences as children and young adults that could harden a person’s heart—that could have caused them to be distrustful, cynical, detached, and aloof. But they were none of these things. Instead, my grandmothers passed along to their families the invaluable knowledge that life doesn’t have to be perfect, or even pretty, it just needs to be filled with moments you share with people you love.
And by watching my grandmothers share their love with others—many of whom were not related to us by blood—I also came to realize that family is more than genetics. My Memom’s best friend wasn’t related to us by blood. But the love my Memom showed her and the love she showed in return for our whole clan was as family-like as any I’ve ever known. The ties that bound in the eyes of my maternal grandmother had nothing to do with genetics at all; for her, family was about unconditional love. And she extended that love well beyond her own four walls, creating a place in her heart for anyone who was lonely or in need.
So, how I became so lucky as to also have two men in my life who understand that blood isn’t the necessary ingredient to create a bond, I’m not sure—especially since their roles involve one of the most difficult jobs on the face of the planet: step-parenting. My stepfather, though now battling Alzheimer’s Disease (read more about his and my mother’s story on page 32), welcomed me into his life and family without hesitation. He has been a dad when I needed an extra one, a trusted advisor when I needed guidance, and a friend always. And now I find myself living in another household with a stepfather, only this time it’s my husband, Gerard, who’s in that role.
My head spins at times when I think how Gerard’s world changed when he married a woman with three sons. One moment he was a content bachelor, enjoying his quiet evenings, full domain over of the remote control, a clean house, his sanity. The next he’s surrounded by chaos. The whirlwind did not stop him, though, from embracing his impromptu family. And what we learned in the process is that family isn’t just about DNA—it’s about the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.
It’s love that matters. In this regard, all of our families are much more alike than they are different—no matter what they may look like on the outside, no matter how blended.
We always want to know about our LKN community! These are recurring features; see how many LKN people you could recommend.
Do you know a…
We want to know!
A WOTM has just moved into the LKN community, earned a new certificate or degree, or received a promotion or award…something like that.
Send us the WOTM’s name, where she works and her title, her email address, and in 1-3 sentences, tell us the news. WOTM entries are not advertisements. We will not include “for more information.” As Dana likes to say, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
If you think you know a WOTM but aren’t sure, assume she is! Send us her information.
We celebrate the guys, too! Email us and tell us why your husband is fantastic. We feature these great guys in our February issue, but the sooner we know about him, the better!
These days, the definition of family has evolved. Throughout the year, and particularly in September, we like to share family stories. So, whatever yours looks like–if it works, shout it out! Of course, if you know another successful LKN family, who just happens to be slightly left–or right–of center, we want to know about them, also!
Work teams of mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughter, aunts, all relations!
We ask school and community leaders for recommendations, but if you know an outstanding LKN girl, age 10-18, to nominate for our June issue, please do. Girls are selected by a committee, based on the details of the nomination (so be thorough! We need a little more than “excellent grades,” please.). Include her parental contact information, if possible.
If you think you know an amazing LKN girl but aren’t sure, assume she is! Send us her information. But we’d like her parental contact info, too, please.
We love to tell the survivor and success stories of women who’ve triumphed over domestic violence, breast cancer (any cancers), rape, and other injuries and situations. Tell us with whom we should talk; tell us whose voice should be the one to convince other LKN Women they are survivors, too!
This one is a little more involved, but don’t shy away. Each December we have a Woman of Will Awards Luncheon. If you know a woman who qualifies (in your opinion is just fine!), please nominate her today. You do need to formally nominate her. If you’re not ready to complete the application, go ahead and send us an email and let us know. We can nag you to complete your nomination by the due date.
Bring it on! Tell us whom you believe would make a fantastic LKNW feature and why, in 100 words or fewer. Please include contact information. We may not reply to every recommendation, but we will read them.
*Any story idea sent in to us is considered our property. You are giving it to us.
If we can’t get it in print, we can still help you promote it.
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