If I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can still hear the echoes of their voices: our children, now grown for these many years that have expanded into decades. In there, in the middle of the chaotic laughter and arguing, I can hear my wife, Sheryl, trying to bring some kind of order to this madness. It was never easy for her.. she was trying to seamlessly blend two families that knew each other, but were not related by blood. What made it worse is that the other set of 'Parents' did everything that they could to make things as difficult as possible. We had two 8 year olds, a boy and a girl, and two 4 year olds, a girl and a boy. They had played together from when they were very little. Now, they were being forged into brothers and sisters. In the middle of this chaos was my 25 year old girlfriend, soon to be my wife. By shear force of her own personality, she managed to fashion us all into a semblance of a family. The kids were so well behaved when she took them shopping that people would comment on them. We married in 1979, and added a daughter in 1980. This completed our family and Sheryl continued to work to bring them together over the next 14 years and then some, after the older children had left the nest. Sheryl's work is still ongoing through 14 Grandchildren and and the occasional crisis that will pop up in any family. One thing is crystal clear: These now adult children are brothers and sisters as much as any blood siblings out there. That's the way they look at each other, and that is the way it will always be.
Their toys have long been gone from these rooms. There are no more voices at our dinner table. No arguments over what to watch on tv. Just the deafening silence of a home that was full of life, and now has grown old with the owners. The toys are gone... the years have slipped away, but I will always have these fond memories of our fresh faced children.
And so, on this Mother's Day, 2012, I would like to salute Sheryl for managing to navigate all the pitfalls of blended families and to thank her for a job well done, with plenty of love to go around for all five children. Thank you, Sher. I love you, and I dedicate this day to you.