Thursday, February 09, 2006

For the sake of family

Published February 9, 2006

Fifteen years ago, my sister and her husband were married in our hometown of Petaluma, California. I remember the wedding because I was eight months pregnant with our first born Shannon Elizabeth. As the matron of honor, I remember thinking that there was no way the seamstress could possibly find enough bolts of fabric to make the dress that would cover my body for the blessed event of my sister’s nuptials. I should have sat down. Like a float in the Rose Parade, I walked down the aisle with the baby almost here and a dress only Omar, the tent maker could appreciate. Everyone said how beautiful the bride was and “Look at Tammy…how cute”. Satin and velvet with turned under hair and a little too much make-up. I shudder to think about it. The things we do for the sake of the family.

Terry and Kevin met and starting dating right away. I could see why she fell in love with him. He is handsome and quiet in a way much like our Dad. For the last fifteen years, I’ve come to think of him more as a brother, especially as the years have gone by. Some people are always the in-laws. Not Kevin. He just fit in and put up with us, probably because he never had sisters, we became his. Kevin is one of those members of the family who is able to fix anything….take care of a problem and see through a crisis. These last several months when Dad was hospitalized, Kevin cleaned the pool, mowed the yards, put together home health care equipment, dismantled a bed, pruned a tree and basically did everything my father would have been doing for the last several months had he not been bed ridden. He showed a lot of concern and had many good questions to field to us for the doctors. Kevin does a lot behind the scenes without calling much attention to what he’s done for you. He’s modest in a dignified way. I admire that about him. I know he does these things for the sake of the family.

Terry is organized in a way I can never come close to imitating. She runs her house like a well oiled machine. She has been with the same employer for seventeen years, a part-time job which is really full-time because she works from home, plus she takes care of her three sons, my nephews, while balancing everything she does with eyes in the back of her head. She is fiercely loyal and generous. There isn’t anything that she wouldn’t do for the sake of the family. During one particularly tense moment in the hospital last November with Dad in ICU, I remember a poignant moment when Terry got down into Dad’s ear and shouted “Fight Dad, damnit, FIGHT!” She would will that he come back to us because she demanded it and Pop apparently listened to her because by the end of the week he was essentially out of his coma. I’ll never forget how we all came together for Dad as a family.

They are a great couple because they compliment each other’s strengths and make up whatever else is lacking in each other’s weaknesses. They pulled together last year, when Kevin’s father passed away after a long illness. I was so sad at the time because there wasn’t anything I could say to Kevin other than to tell him how sorry I was that he lost his Dad. I flashed back to their wedding day, his brother was serving in Iraq in the first Gulf War, and he couldn’t make it back for the wedding, so they erected an American flag on the stage at the reception and a friend of theirs sang the National Anthem in his honor. Kevin’s parents stood up and I saw how proud they were, especially his father. There wasn’t a dry eye at the wedding reception. Kevin and Dad are similar in many ways. They enjoy a good smoke, a good game of golf, and time out in the garage with the “guys”. Kevin and Terry made sure Dad had all his football picks in each week and he, in turn, would be their babysitter when they needed one. Their little guy, Mikey became Pop’s favorite, because they took their naps together. When I asked Dad one time if he minded babysitting in his retirement, he said he looked forward to it each day. Some things are just done for the sake of family.

Over the last fifteen years, I haven’t seen Kevin cry except when it came to the time Dad was in the hospital this winter. I knew we were family even in our grief, and I appreciated the fact that he was my brother, not just my brother in law.

They are celebrating fifteen years of marriage this week, as well as completing construction on their third home. We wish them happiness as they venture into the next decade before their silver wedding anniversary and a long life together; And for selfish reasons, I pray for them in all their needs for the sake of the whole family.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and a bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at

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