My husband is awesome, it’s true, but even he can’t deny that some of his charm comes from the fact that he’s a package deal. Like me, Kirk is incredibly close to his family … his big, fat, Ukrainian Catholic family*. Unlike me, who grew up out west with only my two parents and not meeting much of my extended family until well into my 20s, Kirk and his family gather multiple times a month for birthdays, religious holidays I’d never heard of before, and maybe most enthusiastically, for football games.
It was during football season that Kirk first introduced me to his family. The were loud and boisterous, had their inside jokes and were overall a little intimidating. Ok, a lot intimidating. Far from the football enthusiast, I sat quietly in the corner most of the evening and somehow the role I created for myself within his family that night was the one that stuck with me for the next couple years. It was hard to break out of my niche so late in the game, but once I understood that I was isolating myself and making it impossible for them to get to know me I started making a more dedicated effort. I socialized, I asked questions, I laughed and told stories. I may have still slept through the Super Bowl last year, but hey I’m no miracle worker.
Don’t get me wrong — his family was always welcoming and generous, but we weren’t fast friends. Slowly, I’ve had to work backward, undoing the damage I did in those first few months. Rather than setting a great first impression and being able to coast from there, I’ve had to work at it. I guess I felt I had to prove to his family why I was worth keeping around.
This morning, four years into our relationship, I received an email from his uncle confirming to me that I never had to prove anything. These people are so kind-hearted and loving, that any short-comings I have felt are solely my own imaginings. These folks love me just as much as I love them.
How do I know this? I know because of a simple .jpg file.
In my Run to Remember 5k race recap I wrote about how I had torn off the lower portion of my bib used to determine my time. At the finish line, my bib was ripped from my shirt by a volunteer leaving me to walk through the finish area with only four sad safety pins stuck to my chest.
Uncle Paul, who ran with me that day, went home, scanned his bib and launched Photoshop. He wasn’t sure what my bib number was other than it had bookend 4s and so he tried all the combinations. Then he cut down a FedEx package and printed the image on the reverse side of the tyvek envelope, to make, in his words “the next best thing”.
I now have a bib to hang in my collage, but more than that, I know I also have a big, fat, Ukrainian Catholic family that I can call my own.
* No indignities were intended by the writing of this post. Ukrainian Catholic they may be, but physically obese they are not.
1. big, broad, or extended: a fat sheaf of bills.
2. plentiful; abundant: a fat supply of food.