When I told my mother today that I was very satisfied with the parental hand I was dealt, she laughed and said they had not been perfect parents. Of course not, no one is, but they were the perfect pair for me. (I'm trying to figure out how to get another card analogy in here, like 'aces with me' or 'we sure had a full house' but this parenthetical is the best I can do).
J was a middle child of ten children, and his parents were about 17 years older then mine, so we lost them sooner. Besides God, nothing was more important to his mother than family. When her mother was ill, Catherine would go to her house each day with her youngest children after getting the older ones off to school, and take care of her. Later, her older sister was nursed at home too, as long as possible. It was taken as a matter of fact that you took care of family yourself. One of J's sisters (and their husbands) each lived with his aunt and then his mom when they could no longer live alone. Those brothers-in-law were as helpful and caring as if it was their own family- and after all those years, of course, it was. I remember J telling me about the wedding day of his first sister to get married, and how his mother was very emotional. The new groom tried to make her feel better, by pointing out that she hadn't lost a daughter, but gained a son, to which she replied "I have 6 sons". Ouch!
Of course, the day passed, the marriage lasted and that groom was the B-I-L who
adjusted his life to make sure Aunt S had a safe, welcoming home as long as she lived. She never married, but had 13 loving nieces and nephews who thought of her as a second mother.
J and I have often said that we were blessed to have in-laws that we liked, and love. He and I are far from perfect parents but I think we did a pretty good job with what we had to work with! (Just kidding, children!) Our four are part of a great big, loud, opinionated, funny, hard-working, recycling, flower-growing, sarcastic, Democratic, Republican, independent, loving group of people that happen to be related by blood, adoption, marriage or proximity. That's family, and Mother's Day is not the only time I think of them or am grateful for them, and I certainly don't say it enough, so I hope they know it. I think they do.