The Alabama Housewife
Southern Humorist, Storyteller and Writer
The Family You Choose
As most of you likely know, I lived in Alabama for most of my life until we moved to Florida a few years back. Before we set up camp here full time, we owned a second home in Santa Rosa Beach and I justified it by convincing myself when you live near the beach your children will keep coming to visit. That belief is a big part of what pushed us to make it our full time nest and I can happily report--I was right. They both love to come home whenever they can.
Another big reason we love being here is because of our friendship with a younger couple; Megan and Joel. If you follow my adventures on social media with any regularity you have no doubt seen their boys (my practice grandchildren) make appearances from time to time. What you might not know is how they came to be a part of our chosen family. So today I'm going to tell that story and let you in on what I've learned about the importance of the family you choose.
Several years ago, my husband walked up from an afternoon on the beach and announced he had made a friend—a nice young man named Joel who just so happened to live across the street. They had hit it off immediately, talking about fishing and hunting and Alabama football and wouldn’t you know it, Joel had grown up just 20 miles south of my husband’s hometown. He told me he had set up a play date with his new little beach buddy and that he had invited him to bring his wife along. You see, the two were only a week out of their wedding, having delayed the honeymoon due to Joel’s work schedule. They were leaving the very next day for their postponed trip and Daddy informed me he had invited them over for a drink to toast their nuptials and wish them bon voyage.
“I’m sorry... what? You’ve invited two newlyweds to cocktail hour with Maw Maw and Paw Paw? Well, I’m sure his new bride will simply be thrilled about that.”
The clock struck six and in they walked. She was mad at him for dragging her away from the frenzied honeymoon packing but she hid it well. As I expected, she looked like a twenty-something movie star, but she was so delightful that I couldn’t even be mean about it. We soon discovered that Daddy was in fact old enough to have been their actual daddy and I was old enough to have been their babysitter, but neither fact deterred us one bit. At some point in the evening Sadie Sue buzzed through and once she met them she pulled me aside and asked, “Why do those young people want to hang out with y’all?” I honestly had no clue, but at 11:00 that night we were all four still sitting in the den talking and laughing—about everything and nothing at the same time.
Several months later when we announced our intention to go to brunch at Great Southern Cafe in our wedding clothes and serve cake to everyone in the restaurant for a wacky 20th anniversary celebration, Megan and Joel agreed to dress up and join in with us. That’s when I knew this was all meant to be. In the years since that first meeting and that crazy anniversary brunch they have become a part of our family—and it seems like they always have been.
When their boys, Rowan and Fordham came along, it just made our chosen family happier and stronger. And as it turns out little Rowan and our son Jake have the exact same age difference their daddies do and while it seems crazy to think of a 28 year old being friends with a kindergartener, I’m pretty sure I know what lies ahead years down the road: two more boys spending afternoons on the beach talking about fishing and hunting and Alabama football—and wondering why their parents never really grew up.
So if you get the chance to choose some extra family members for yourself, I strongly suggest it. You just can't imagine how amazing it can be.