The family of your heart

Today’s blogging prompt comes from my friend Lorna MacDonald Czarnota, who writes a gratitude post every day on Facebook. Today, she posted one word, “family.” I asked Lorna if I could use some of her gratitude posts as blogging prompts, and she very graciously said yes.

I think about family often and about what the word “family” means.

I think about who is included in my family. Is it just relatives or can I expand that to include others? I have a friend named Amy who asked me to paint a picture for her and add the words, “Friends become our chosen family.”

Until that point, I thought that friends and family fell into two separate groups. But, when I worked on that painting, I had the chance to reflect on it, and I realized that some of my friends had become as close as family. In fact, they had integrated me into their family groups, inviting me to share holidays with them.

They have shared with me their happy times and their sad times. And so, they have become family. I have biological family and I have friends-family, and I feel very enriched by both.

I like to observe families who share a particular talent. It is very delightful to listen to family groups share their musical groups, either as instrumentalists, singers, or both. There is something about the vocal blend of people who are related to one another. At Saint Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church on Grand Island, there is a family that often sings together. Their vocal blend is lovely, and you never hear a single voice sticking out. I also have a friend named Ellen, who has three adult children. They all sing, and they are a lucky family indeed. There is one soprano, one alto, one tenor, and one baritone. It isn’t every family that is a vocal quartet, even if they all sing together.

In fact, there has been research that has proven that family members do have a unique vocal blend. Because they have a similar facial structure to each other, their voices have a similar timbre. Their harmonies resonate. When they sing together, they sound like one voice or they sound like many voices with a perfect blend. Generally, in a choral group, it it is more of a challenge. Really good, well blended choirs don’t have that genetic advantage that singing families have. So choir members need two things: good ears and a good director who knows how to place singers in such a way that their voices don’t clash.

One last comment about family. Your treasured family members can be relatives, friends, or your pets. Your cats and your dogs or your other furry friends become close family members. They are as much family as siblings, parents, and children.

You share your life with your pets.

They make you laugh. They exasperate you when they decide to chew your favorite slipper as if it were some sort of chew toy. They frustrate you when you serve them food and they turn up their tail with disdain and walk off in an annoyed huff at your obvious lack of taste in all things culinary. And when they pass away, your heart is as broken as if they were human. 

3 thoughts on “The family of your heart”

  1. Ah, well written, touching, and above all a continuing testament to your deep humanity. Thank you, Alice, for sharing your life and thoughts with us.

  2. I invented a family so my kids would have loving grandparents, uncles, and aunts.
    Thankfully, I picked the best choices. And, my three best friends completed the circle.

  3. Sometimes, biological families fail their members, such as when parents or siblings are abusive or absent. Those who can find new families through friends (and sometimes, co workers) are blessed. At my company, many years ago, a woman who had two teenaged children but no other family, became terminally ill. One of her co workers took in, and eventually adopted, the two teens and raised them along with her three biological children. The thought of it still leaves me humbled.

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