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Family: The Morphing
November 12, 2022

There is no quiet like the silence of my house as I walk into it after dropping the last gaggle of kids off at the airport following a big family weekend. It’s a palpable absence of voices and happenings and glorious chaos. Monday morning, I sat with a cup of tea and used the silence as a backdrop for reflection.

On Family

This past weekend our family gathered to celebrate BF’s milestone birthday. Kids cleared their schedules and traveled from Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, and Carmel. Biological kids, step kids, in-law kids, grandkids in tow, to celebrate a man who defies all signs of his seventy years on this Earth. A man we love and appreciate. A man who has been integral in a successful blending. 

Family around a table in a restaurant.
Our Family at Our Table
Diner shakes hands with Chef
A special guest, Chef Joe, visits our celebration.
Granddaughters help Grandpa blow out his birthday candles.
Grandpa/Papa gets help blowing out his candles.

As Higher timing would have it, the capstone to our weekend was a memorial service for Pauline Dixon, my first mother-in-law. Watching Jessica and Michael circulate the funeral home chapel greeting guests who had come to pay their respects, and then listening as they spoke the eulogy for their grandmother, I was overwhelmed with pride. Watching one’s children behave as competent, confident adults is almost jarring.

As we invited guests to tell stories about Pauline, BF commented how enthusiastically she had welcomed him into our family, even though for him to do so meant her son had to die. A scene comes to mind of him helping her up the sidewalk for Christmas dinner, her just patting, patting his arm. 

Nana, Will You Come Play With Me? 

Adi and Lily are adamant that they are both cousins and friends. Having the two of them here together was one of the things about which I was most excited. That is not to say, however, the notion didn’t produce a bit of anxiety. Would these two independent, outspoken post-toddlers share and get along? Would l have anything here they would eat? Would they sleep well, considering time zones and strange beds? Would they like each other and me by the time the weekend was over?

I’m happy to report these two little girls were a grand success! And my favorite refrain from the entire weekend was, “Nana will you come play with me?” Yes, I missed a majority of the adult conversation, but I played. Hide and seek, with the dollhouse upstairs, and with every game in the basement. Such an honor to be included in their play. 

Two little girls playing in doll house.
Loving the Doll House made by Great Grandpa Kenny for Aunt Jessica.
Two little girls with Snow White Dolls and Grandpa
Playing with Snow White and Grandpa/Papa

My heart melted when I went upstairs and those two precious little girls came walking down the hallway holding hands, “Nana?” they said. I do not remember what they asked me for . . . but that moment. 

I stop today to consider the word family and what it really means. The way life circumstances can turn a family upside down and then add people to it and put it back together anew. BF and I often refer to our “first lives.” I’m grateful to feel comfortable inviting a cousin, his daughter, and my brother-in-law from my first life into our home after the funeral. Grateful for the opportunity to be part of blending our little family. And for the way “step” just doesn’t apply to grandkids and cousins. 

Perfection and Presence

Is our family perfect? Um, we are humans. Was our gathering free of conflict? Heck no! Just ask Jessica and Michael. Was attendance 100%? Nope. That’s not how life works. Did I even remember to put out all the food I had prepared? Not even close. 

But did everyone feel loved and welcome? I think so. I hope so.  

Knowing myself and how excitable I can be, knowing I’d have two of my favorite playmates here, knowing I was hosting six overnight “guests,” a birthday dinner, and a funeral, I set an intention to remain present with each activity. And I think I did. The best I know how.

And today I celebrate the word family and all its denotation and connotation and the morphing thereof. 

Nana and Papa holding their granddaughters.
When they are in no mood to pose.
Family photo fun style.
When I say, let’s take a fun one!
Three young women in the mirror together getting ready to go out.
Chatting and getting ready to go to dinner.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your blessings ?

  2. It was wonderful to be together! Thank you for everything you did for our visit!

    • As always, it was my pleasure! And I appreciate all you kids did to be there

  3. Happy chaos is the best! Beautifully written.

    • Thank you! And yes, I agree!


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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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