What’s that old quote by Harper Lee? “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family…”
Well I beg to differ.
In order to explain why, I think I better start at the beginning. Well, at least at the beginning of my husband and I.
So let’s rewind to a night about 4 years back. I can’t recall exactly how long Nathan and I had been dating. It was, however, in the “only a few months” area. Of course for us, only a few months meant already exchanged “I love you’s”. (He swears I said it first… I swear I was drunk and didn’t know what I was saying 😉 ) and already living together (in his parents house no less… another post is required for that story.)
Anyways, we had been dating “only a few months” at the time and on this particular evening I really wasn’t feeling well and I believe it was sometime around the holidays. I don’t know exactly how, or why, but we ended up at the house of his ex-girlfriend.
As you can imagine, I was sick, so I certainly didn’t feel well, definitely didn’t look good, and had minimal patience. But we were still in that honeymoon phase so I decided what the heck, he can visit with the ex and her family (since they were apparently all pretty close, which I didn’t hate AT ALL…) and I will just sleep in the car.
Truth be told, I really wasn’t as mad about it as I probably would be now, but like I said, tired, sick, honeymoon stage, etc etc… (I seriously don’t think my husband gives me enough credit for being cool as a cucumber on oh so many occasions, haha) So, Nathan went into their house and I fell asleep in the car.
Next thing I knew I heard a tap tap tap on the window and the door opened. Standing there was a man I had never seen before, but he appeared to be the father of the ex and I remember noticing that he had very kind eyes. He opened the car door and insisted that I immediately join them inside for a hot toddy (if you don’t know what a hot toddy is, it’s a lovely warm alcoholic beverage that really does the trick when you aren’t feeling well.)
So naturally I complied and followed him into the house. There I was greeted by a beautiful woman with an English accent (I was sold on that fact alone) who turned out to be the mother of the ex, and of course the ex herself. (She was actually the one who made me the drink so I really couldn’t bring myself to dislike her even though I kind of wanted to on principal 😉 )
And that was how one of the strangest, and most wonderful, relationships of my life began.
The parents of my husbands’ ex… better known as Brad and Victoria, and more affectionately, Grandpa B and Nanny V as they will be known by our son… are two of the kindest people I have ever known.
They immediately welcomed me into their home and their lives as though they had always known me. They love my husband dearly (and not so secretly wish he could have been their official son-in-law 😉 ) and because of this grew to love me and our son as well.
In the four years since I have known them, they have extended countless kindnesses to my husband and I. We have spent holidays together, they gave us our first beautiful set of China, they were at our wedding and they even gave us our Owlet.
You see, after Reef was born they came over to meet him and joined us for dinner. While they were over, I expressed my concern about SIDS (it was truly keeping me up at night) and mentioned that I had seen an incredible new product that would monitor Reefs blood pressure and oxygen level as he slept and give off an alarm should anything be amiss. I also mentioned that it was a bit steep in price, which is what caused a slight hesitance in purchasing it. Three days later, it arrived at our door. They had purchased it for us in order to help me have peace of mind and get some sleep. And that is just one instance of their unwavering kindness and generosity towards us.
The next act of unimaginable and selfless love that they have shown came just a few weeks ago.
As many of you know, I had been having a bit of a hard time with transitioning back to work, as well as finding a solution to childcare for Reef that I am both comfortable with and that we can afford. After one of my, “I’m terribly sad about this” posts, I received a message from Nanny V with a simple question, “Would you like us to come and stay with you and watch Reef.”
Now, this isn’t as simple an offer as you may think. At the time they were living in their North Carolina home and had rented out their house in Hawaii for the remainder of the year. So these wonderful people were offering to leave their large, beautiful home and fly all the way back to Hawaii and stay in one of our small spare bedrooms in order to help us with the baby. I don’t think I have ever jumped at an offer so quickly in my life.
Less than two weeks later they were both here and all of the anxiety, fear, worry, and stress that I was experiencing regarding leaving my son with a stranger disappeared.
And finally most recently, yesterday in fact, another gesture that is seemingly so small, but in reality is so large.
I was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the most thoughtful card, just because it “seemed like I might need it that day.” And Victoria was so right. I really did need it, so much in fact, that this random act of kindness brought me to tears.
Because that is exactly what these two people are, kind, with the most incredible capacity to love. They love Nathan even though his relationship with their daughter did not stand the test of time, they love me even though I was a new person brought into their lives by a young man they wish could have been their son, and now they love our baby boy as though he truly is their own flesh and blood grandchild.
In Hawaii there is a saying for people who are not blood related but are basically family, they are your Hanai Family. But I can’t even use that term to describe them, because they are so much more than that.
Most people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them our situation. Most people want to pretend that the past relationships of their significant others don’t even exist, never mind live with their family.
For us though, that is not the case. And I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for choosing be a part of our family, and letting us be a part of theirs.
To me, they are truly a blessing… that was just disguised as the parents of my husbands ex.
We love you both and will never be able to repay you for all that you do for us.
Nathan, Malerie & Reef