Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,

Kings' Courier

Family Doesn’t Always Come From Blood

The People Who Made Me Who I Am Today

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A mix of a large crowd’s conversations, a bartender yelling and laughing with locals, and a pompous trumpet blasting La Bomba filled the tiny seafood restaurant before me in Barcelona, Spain. My family, that I came with and my family that live in Barcelona, sat around me as our waiter brought out, “dos de todos” as Rosilla, my cousin’s wife, ordered. I remember the look on my sister’s face as an entire fish came out- cooked, seasoned with a lemon, and staring me right in the face. Even though I was in an entirely foreign place with people I had just met eating foods I’d never tried, I felt entirely comfortable. My family has shaped my life and my identity into the strong, passionate woman I currently stand to be; however, a lot of the people that have so strongly impacted me didn’t come from genetics. The different sides of my family have shown me that blood means nothing when leaving important impacts on my life; each part, twisted or lively as it may be, has given me something I will carry on with me for the rest of my life.

My mother’s side of the family comes from Almeria, Spain; with that, I grew up eating paella, trying to understand the adults’ Spanish conversations, and playing with my grandmother’s castanets and flamenco dresses. Growing up, my grandma would tell me, “You have relatives in Spain.” I believed her but at the same time I was very skeptical. My entire family went on a trip to Spain recently; only did I truly believe her when she said that we were going to meet them. In Barcelona, we have a residing family, and I was exceedingly nervous to meet them. However, as I sat at the dinner table in their house surrounded by the authentic foods I had grown up with, I felt comfortable practicing my Spanish and engaging with these new people as if I had known them my entire life. I’ve realized that the upbringing I had has given me an open mind and an open heart. I am aware of different people, religions, politics, and cultures around the world, and I am not scared of them as many people in America are today. I want to embrace these cultures and learn about them so I can have a better understanding of how the world works so I can make it better. The people that raised me taught me how to be accepting of others. My childhood is the reason I am interested in politics, foreign policy, and helping other countries in need with refugees and equality amongst men and women. The open-mindedness I practiced the two days we spent with my family showed me that my upbringing has influenced my mindset and my view of the world. My grandma showed me how to care for other people, my aunt showed me that standing up for myself and having a strong opinion is better than suppressing what I feel because “girls your age” shouldn’t care about anything but prom and high school, and my mother has taught me how to be brave no matter the circumstance. The influence the women on my mother’s side of the family have given me shaped me into the woman I am and I’m still growing into.

I mentioned my mother being brave; one of the biggest moments where my mother had to be brave was handling my biological father. He put my mother through nightmares, and I still turned out happy and successful thanks to my mother’s love and dedication to making sure my sister and I had a life worth living. I have never met my biological father nor do I plan to; however, I have met some very beautiful people because of his actions. My mother married to a man I acknowledge as my real father when I was four years old; therefore, I had three sets of grandparents and never could understand why. As I got older, I realized my situation and accepted it as it was. But the next thing I know, I’m sitting at my kitchen table being told I have a half-sister. I laughed when my parents said, “You have another sister,” because I honestly thought they were kidding. The reason they told my older sister and I about her at all was because her mother was just sent to jail for a methamphetamine lab explosion, and my younger sister was on her way to live with my biological grandparents. My sister was younger then and she didn’t understand why her mother was being taken away from her. As I watched this all happen, I developed an understanding of what it’s like not to have a good home life, a loving family, and a stable place to live. I am very blessed to live in a nice house with a good chance at school and a successful future; my half sister showed me that trouble and struggle aren’t as far away as they seem to be. My little sister is now a freshman in high school, and I’m incredibly blessed to have her in my life. Even though my biological father messed up his life, the sole thing he gave me was the opportunity to love and meet more people because of his choices. This proves that not all characteristics of a person come from genetics, but rather from experiences.  The entire situation gave me understanding that even though I grew up in a nice, small town, people need help. This sense of philanthropy I developed from being able to look on the inside of a broken family has made me want to help people for the rest of my life.

   The most recent and the most impactful person in my life is the man I previously mentioned as the person I accept as my real father. This man was the angel my mother had been waiting for. After my mother and my father got married, he adopted my older sister and I. Of course there were bumps along the way but for about thirteen years we were a happy little family that went to every Marvel Comics movie that hit theaters and loved to eat authentic Mexican food. In September of this previous year, my dad was in a car accident due to a seizure. I had a recurring sense of, “it’s probably fine, nothing serious ever happens to me.” I was very wrong every time this thought floated through my head. My dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on September 9, 2016. Normally when someone is told devastating news such as this, the immediate reaction results in tears, anger, frustration, and questioning of your faith- this was how my mom, sister, and grandma reacted. However, when the doctor told my dad that he had terminal brain cancer, he only said, “So this is how my X-Men powers come in right?” The entire time my dad was sick I never saw him angry or upset or confused as to why God was putting him through such horrible times. He was truly the most positive and influential man in my life- he was ahead by a century. Every single day he inspired someone to stay positive and stay courageous; through motivational quotes on Facebook, old friends visiting and listening to him talk about how he didn’t see his situation as a bad thing, or texting my family and I funny pictures throughout the day to keep us positive. My father taught me that when bad situations come along not to think of  them as a curse, but rather take my struggles and turn them into motivation, hard work, and positivity. I know this impacted me because the second time I had the, “nothing is wrong” thought, my father passed away of what is suspected as a heart attack, and after the tears and we left the hospital, my family and I sat down and talked. We decided that my dad’s sudden death was a blessing, not a curse. I never had to encounter him in a sickly weak state that I didn’t recognize as my father.  I am so grateful for the man, whom I was not biologically related to at all, that pushed me and shaped me to be the best version of myself. Even though as I was growing up I didn’t always get along perfectly with him, I know I am a better person because of his teachings. He taught me to be brave and courageous, to make the best out of every situation, and never to stop trying my best and fighting my hardest.  

The people I lean on in my life have not always been from blood. My mother, sister, aunt, and grandma obviously have always been the most influential women in my life; however, many of the people who have knocked on my door impacted me so greatly they opened many more doors for my future. I am a strong, well- rounded, hardworking woman, and I am not about to give up on any of my dreams and future goals. I love the person I have become, and I cherish the people who have shaped me this way. No matter what path I choose to take, I know I will be successful because of my background and my upbringing. I was blessed with good genetics that have given me intelligence, but I was also blessed with amazing people that gave me a personality that did not come from a strand of DNA.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Family Doesn’t Always Come From Blood”

  1. Cjay74 on October 5th, 2017 3:04 pm

    Mari, I really loved this article! It showed me more perspective on how you became who you are. I think it is awesome how opinionated you are. I always enjoy talking with you on things we don’t necessarily agree on; I love the insight on how someone else thinks. I think you will make it far in life if you continue to exhibit the traits you described in your story.

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
Family Doesn’t Always Come From Blood