Tomorrow we're going to a 90th birthday 'tea'. Sounds fancy.
Hanna Howard is turning 90. She is a remarkable woman. She was born in Germany and had a Jewish grandmother who was taken to the camps and never came back. She came to America and married Lee Howard.
Hanna and Lee were members of St. Paul's, New Haven when I was Rector there. Lee was the organist/choir director and Hanna was in the choir, even though she and Lee were divorced before I met them.Theirs was a divorce that defies the adage that one of the divorced couple "gets the church".
I always admired them for that.
Hanna is an accomplished musician herself--a pianist of no small measure. A long time ago--20 years maybe--she developed macular degeneration and is legally blind. But she still teaches and plays. Once a year or so I go to 'concerts' she gives in her home in Hamden. She still lives alone and manages to have a full life in spite of her limitations.
Every few months I go to her apartment and read her stuff I have written. She loves that--being read to since she can hardly read at all, even on her computer that has a special attachment for extra-large type, about five words a page.
Once, when she still lived in New Haven, I was at her house and noticed she had a picture of Bern and Josh and Mimi and me on her cork board along with pictures of her children and grandchildren.
That was deeply moving to me, to realize she thought of us as 'family'.
Bern and I have no 'family' near by so we have Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with our 'adopted family'. Hanna is on the Thanksgiving list. She loves to see Mimi and Tim, Josh and Cathy and our granddaughters.
"Adopted family" is really important to us. Bern told me when she and Sherry Ellis (where we were tonight for John Anderson's birthday dinner) went to Jacob's Pillow to visit Mimi, Mimi introduced Bern to a co-worker as 'my mother' and Sherry as 'my other mother'. Sherry, Bern said, fought to hold back tears of joy and wonder.
You can't 'choose' you blood family. But you can choose you're 'adopted family'--that may be why they're so important.
Do you have 'adopted family' in your life? I hope so. And ponder how fortunate you are if you do.
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