Life is what it is

I had the sense I might have from the siblings I lived with. The subject would come up in the arguments I’d listen to from the top of the stairs as a kid. I spent years eyeing our family friends to see if any resembled me. It was only when I turned 40 that I learned who my closest relative was. Harry lives in the Hudson Valley, too.

My wife was at a family gathering about a decade ago when one of her distant cousins brought up the idea of another sister. She and one of the siblings she grew up with became obsessed with tracking the information to a point where they could raise the subject with the father who’d left them when they were in their early teens. They eventually found Kimlyn living in the same college town where she’d been conceived. The woman, now in her early 60s, immediately heralded the discovery of new siblings she’d long suspected she had.

Recently, however, Kimlyn’s mother revealed that my wife’s father was not their new sister’s father. He was actually the husband she married after her affair with a young college man. Yet she’d sticking with her newfound siblings, even if not really family, because her “real” family had never been close to her during the years it really mattered.


My sister insists that our mother, on her deathbed, alluded to a baby that wasn’t us. My sister spent months researching the year our mom left college to live at home. Could she have put a sibling of ours up for adoption?

She dropped the search after a while. I was never that interested, feeling sufficient with the family I’m now shepherding as an aging adult: my wife, our adopted son, our pets, our past siblings (now uncles and aunts), and distant family.

Ours are modern stories that are not all that unusual. Love has few bounds. Marriage and childrearing carry what are often unnatural laws.

Life, including all we call family, is what it is.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.