I remember the day distinctly.
A woman looked at me and told me, “Those people… They’re not your family. Not really.”
I was roughly 15, and in the prime of my back talking years (years, lots of years). If she hadn’t had been in her 60’s, I probably would have knocked her out of her chair. But I’m a lady and didn’t (physically) react.
However, ya’ll know me… I gave her a mouth full. Who the hell was she? She didn’t know what family meant, or who my family was. She had no clue.
I thought about this day a lot, today.
I can’t remember a single time I fought so hard for my family.
You see, my grandfather passed away yesterday. He had nine kids, none of which were my parents. Weird, huh? Technically, I share zero DNA with this side of the family. But who’s being technical?
What you need to know is that my mom was my grandpa’s daughter-in-law, and my dad was my grandpa’s son-in-law. And me and my sister, we were his grandkids. Just like all the other 16 hellians.
I don’t have a single memory that doesn’t include this side of the family. Not one.
And I’ve actually never really thought long and hard about how fortunate I am to have this third family. I hadn’t thought about it until I found out my grandfather passed. Unfortunately, grandma passed years ago at a time where I didn’t understand anything about death. So I was never able to fully comprehend the life the two of them made possible for me by welcoming me in as one of their own since the day I was born.
It’s one thing to be stuck with the family you have. I mean those people aren’t going anywhere (not pointing any fingers). It’s another thing to CHOOSE to include an entire other set of family members. And that’s what my grandma, grandpa, and the nearly 60 other family members did.
I have never once questioned if I was an equal part of this family. And I know I never will. And I can’t help but think that Grandpa Till, Grandma Till, and even Tom are looking down on me right now saying that I’ll always be a Till, with or without the DNA. Hell, the loud mouth and drinking ability is enough to include me as it is.
So here’s to my Grandpa, Sam Till Sr., a man who always told his granddaughters there was still time to become a nun (not quite sure if he was joking or serious); a guy who never let any of us go hungry, and if we were full, there was always room for dessert, ALWAYS; and a man that almost always had a beer in his hand, because life’s no good if you can’t enjoy it.
Thanks for choosing me to be your granddaughter. I am forever grateful.