Paige (second from the right) came over today for a final get together before she leaves for her new parish in San Diego. In about a month, Gabe, Sarah, Johanna and Tobias (at left) will take off for Michigan State. Jed, Courtney, Liz, Abby and Sam (at right) are moving down here, but I'm not sure where I'll end up.
It seemed like a good time to get a picture, quick, before the changes began to take effect.
As we did our hugs, Paige began to tear up and said, "You've been my family for 20 years!" and I, of course, reminded her that we were still her family.
Paige came East to be a freshman at Boston University in 1988, at a time when I was dating her mother, and she slid right into the family and has been big sister to the boys, an aunt to their children, a daughter to me and a confessor to all, performing a wedding and a couple of baptisms and extending her reach beyond our little circle and into the larger clan. When her mother and I broke up, she said, "I don't want this to affect your relationship with Paige," and some 13 years later, it has not in the least. Fact is, none of the kids in this picture were born when she joined the family, and, as far as they know, she has always been one of the gang. I, on the other hand, remember how quickly she and the boys hit it off, and love her as much for her influence on and affection for them as for any of the things that have passed between us.
And let's not over-emphasize the impact of all this moving. Over the years, we have not always had this little knot of siblings in one area the way we have for the past six years or so. It's been great having the kids in New York, Vermont and Maine, but there have been times when some of them have been living in Japan, California, Colorado or England, and we've managed to keep it together without geography's help. I'm sure we will continue to do so.
But the geography has certainly made it easy over the last several years.