Family By Extension

One of the bejeweled
moments of my son’s wedding: standing arm-in-arm with Debbie, Taryn’s mom,
watching our son and daughter dance their first dance as man and wife.  Eyes shining, Debbie leaned over and said, “You
know what this means, don’t you?  We’re
family now.”  I wish there was a less
clunky way to describe our relationship than “my daughter-in-law’s mom” or “my
son’s mother-in-law”.  She is family by

Family by extension works
in many wonderful directions. 

My bro and SIL,
Dan and Val, are bringing a dear friend with them for their annual Oregon migration this
Saturday.  Rachel, a sprightly senior
citizen, and Dan and Val are family to each other, celebrating birthdays, showing
mutual care.  So, by extension, Rachel is
our family too.  We are delighted for the opportunity to know Rachel and
to be known by her. 

My Aunt Betty, who lives in South Africa, has informally
adopted a son, Jean-Blaise.  They care
deeply for each other; she calls him Son
and he calls her Mother.  Aunt Betty
emailed me pictures, which I forwarded to my siblings with the subject line, We have a Congolese cousin.    

There are copious examples of families who have claimed a person or group as their
own.  I’m sure you have people who are
family to you.  We often give the title
Uncle and Aunt to people who share love, if not blood, with us or with our

The root of the word extend is
the Latin word tendere, to stretch. A pregnant woman is a living demonstration of the stretching
that takes place to make room for a new member of the family.
 It is not difficult to open the family circle
and re-link hands in an expanded circle. 
We did it every day we played dodge ball on the playgrounds of our
youth.  Other cultures excel at family by
extension; if we were wise, we would learn from them. 

God sets the solitary in families.   Psalm 68:6

He makes His families like a flock. Psalm 107:41


Those friends thou hast, and their
adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of

            Hamlet, William Shakespeare


Treat your friends like family
and your family like friends.

Cotton Mather


3 thoughts on “Family By Extension

  1. So… it was Cotton Mather who said that? 
    Hope you’re feeling better.  Now I’m dragging a bit: sore throat and headache.
    Blessings on your family visit.  Cant wait to hear what Danny cooks and sings!

  2. I, too, hope this thought-full, lucid post means you’re feeling better!
    Mr W laughed to discover my definition of “family” as we drew up wedding-guest lists 11 years ago- family is anyone at whose funeral I would cry, would feel bereft.

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