As long as I have known him my husband has had a family photo of his immediate family in a frame next to his desk. I always thought this was really sweet because I knew right from the start that family was important to him, and this was something we had in common. It’s an important value to have in common, too.
Over the years, we would pull out pictures, go through them together, and share our memories. I had this one set of pictures from when I was about 15 and they were completely silly. Someone had snapped quite a few of me being absolutely ridiculous--making funny faces and picking my nose, that sort of thing. Well, Daren took the craziest one--of me with my hands up my own shirt making nipples or something--and carefully cut it out and placed it on his family picture.
When I saw this I was completely embarrassed, of course! What an awful 15 year old picture of me! He thought it was sort of funny and it became a joke as he would tell people who came into his office, “See, she’s in my family picture!” As the years passed, even I came to love the silly “family” picture because it was just so "out there."
When we had been dating nearly five years, Daren’s sister got engaged to her boyfriend. To say that I wasn’t jealous would be a lie. I was insanely jealous. I wanted to be married so badly, and even though I was really happy for his sister, I felt a little slighted. I bring this up because Daren’s mother, of course, gave a dinner to celebrate their engagement and we were all in attendance.
Daren's other sister had been dating a man whose parents also were invited to the dinner. They never liked me. For whatever reason, these people and myself were the proverbial oil and water. Before dinner on this beautiful summer evening, someone came up with the idea to take a family picture to mark the celebration of the engagement. As quickly as the idea came about, I realized that I was being excluded from the family photograph.
My tender feelings took a further blow when oil and water mother said to me, “Only engaged people get to be in the family photo!” Who was this woman?! She had been present in the family structure for, like, five seconds! I prickled up like a cactus and snapped back, “Yea, I guess five years doesn’t make you family!” I wanted to yell and scream at her that sucked, but instead I smiled and sucked it up, thinking to myself that someday I would be in that family picture--come hell or high water! And hopefully by then, she would be long gone back to whatever cave she hailed from.
Just a few months later, Daren and I did get engaged. And about a year and half later, when Daren’s sister got married, I finally got to be in the family picture. That was nearly two years ago, but for some reason, that same picture was hanging by my husband’s desk--the one with 15 year old me clipped in! To my surprise, though, on a rainy Tuesday morning, my husband announced, “I sent you the new family photo.”
“What do you mean?” I checked my email and there it was: the picture from his sister’s wedding with me actually in the photo--with all of us in the photo! And he printed out a new one to put by his desk. It may have taken me 8 1/2 years, but I finally made the family photo next to his desk; though, in our hearts, our families were blended long ago, it is amazing how the little things just make a person smile from the inside out!
I finally made the family picture!