What Is Family?

I love living close to my parents. Among the many benefits, it gives my dad and I the chance to throw back a couple every once in a while and talk. We did just that the other day when, out of nowhere, he said, “I was in my 40’s when I found out my brother was my half-brother.” Huh? What? I didn’t know that! My late uncle had a different father than my dad did and he also had a half-sister somewhere too. “When you found out, did the two of you ever talk about it?” I asked. “Nope,” Dad replied. “It didn’t matter. We were brothers.”

A week later, our conversation ran through my mind as I watched my wife’s son graduate from Army boot camp. 21 years after she made the difficult decision to put Adam up for adoption, and only a year since they reunited, we were at Fort Benning, Georgia witnessing his dream come true. What a blessing. I feel so much pride for this young man I hardly know, for many reasons, but mostly because he’s a part of the woman I love. He’s family.

While we were at Fort Benning, we stopped at a military supply store. Our daughters picked out a shirt that says, “ARMY SISTER.” Their eyes grew two sizes bigger. They were beaming. “Can we get this?” they pleaded. After buying it, Emily couldn’t wait. She immediately went out to the car to put it on. Later, she said to me, “Dad, I’m proud of Adam.” “Me too,” I said. “Me too.”

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The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other
~ Mario Puzo

On the drive home, I thought about exactly what makes up a family; how it has little to do with blood relations. I had just watched as hundreds of young men—strangers three months ago—declared themselves brothers,”I will never leave a fallen comrade,” they loudly declared in unison. Imagine how much healthier we’d be as a people if we did the same.

What is family? It’s not so complicated.

Family knows no percentages; no labels or blood type.

Family is who you love. Family is who you champion.

What a blessing it is when the family circle grows and strengthens.