I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to earn my family.
There are some who’d tell you family is born of you — kin, they call it — trees and blood and heritage and all that shit.
I have that.
I have the people I’m stuck with, the ones who annoy and degrade me, who take me for granted and disrespect me. I have those. I also have people I’m profoundly grateful to be related to. The ones I know I’m lucky to call my own.
My family, though, is different.
I consider my family to be those people I’ve chosen for my inner circle. They’re the ones whose claim has little to do with blood, something to do with longevity, and everything to do with faith.
My family is made up of people who took a chance on loving me and received my love in return. They gave me their loyalty and I gave them mine in return. They stand by me, proud to know me, and I stand by them, proud to know them.
I learned a long time ago that you can choose your family.
You may not be able to choose your kin. Them sonsofbitches might just follow you around and try to drag you into their swamp. But your family, they’re something special.
One of the earliest members of my family is my brother Josh. We met as friends in eighth grade and remained as such through school. When I went to college at Clemson, he’d moved to Atlanta to live with his mom and step-dad Randy. So every weekend, he was in Clemson and we were partying and telling people we were brother and sister.
Randy and Patty (Josh’s mom) had been high school sweet hearts who reconnected after they’d each had marriages and kids and divorces. Their marriage was something we thought was equal parts tragic (“Why didn’t they stay together in the first place?”) and romantic (“They found one another again!”).