Family, gratitude, love and respect

As I had a pretty rocky start in life, I don't really know what a "normal" family is; if I try to picture one I end up with a Norman Rockwell painting. Until I met my husband, I only had my very dysfunctional family to go on and I certainly would not view any of the atypical pushy, bigoted, arrogant and competitive North American Jewish types that I was surrounded with as role models.

The views and values that were drilled into my head from a very young age were never in accord with my own and even though as a young girl I tried my best to conform, it was inevitable that I was going to rebel. I had to. I had to be true to myself, which is how I ended up in England.

And, as life is never simple, my rebellion took on a life of its own, and I did things that I'm not proud of, but no matter what happened on the outside, the real me remained intact on the inside. It took a long time to return home to myself and I couldn't have done it without the people I now call my family, the people who love, respect and accept me just as I am and for whom I do the same right back. They may not be my family of origin, but they are everything anyone could ever hope for in a family.

I have waxed lyrical about my husband and son often enough, so it's about time that I give credit where credit is due and show my boundless gratitude to the inimitable Jan Wassmer, my incredibly wonderful mother-in-law, who has treated me just as if I was her very own daughter, with her unique brand of openness, love, kindness and respect. She never imposes herself or her views on me, she never judges me or blames me for anything, even when I have clearly screwed up. She doesn't make any grand gestures. She doesn't do what she does for herself. She just loves those she loves and knows how to show it. She provides a subtle and steady stream of love, support, understanding and compassion, without any requirement for anything in return. Not something I understood at first. I hadn't experienced this sort of selflessness before.

I may never be able to truly express my gratitude to Jan for letting me be part of the beautiful family that I've had the good fortune to marry into, but being the sort of woman she is, I expect that she just knows.

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