Life gives us so many unexpected gifts!  As in when I fell in love with Chris and was introduced to his sister Margy and brother-in-law, Ray.  We were on our way home from a raft trip and stopped to visit them in Grand Junction, Colorado.  His other sister, Corinne came over the next day.   I had no idea what good fortune would be mine from that first introduction in the summer of 2000, until now.

When Chris was born, Margy was 17 and Corinne was 18.  So, when they married and had children, Chris’ nieces and nephews were more like close cousins.  They enjoyed so many wonderful adventures growing up.  I am closest to Suzy, Kat, Danny and Mary Lou because I’ve spent the most time with them, but Chuck and Jim are great people, too!

Last Thursday, we ventured to Grand Junction for another wonderful visit with Margy and Ray, three of their four kids; Suzy, Kat and Danny.  Also joining us were Corinne and Mary Lou.  These great folks continue to show me what a happy family looks like; adult children who love being with their parents and siblings.  Laughter abounds.  Thoughtfulness is everywhere.  Judgment is non-existent.  Love flows throughout the environment and the energy is alive with enthusiasm and utter joy.  I so love being in the midst of people who live so positively.  I feel wrapped in their love and acceptance and I am happy.

Each of these people have such special qualities; not the least of those is Mary Lou’s penetrating gaze with those beautiful blue eyes……….she looks at me and says, “So how ARE you, honestly?”  She sees into my soul……She is a woman of God and I cannot pretend with her.  It feels good to “come clean” and not have to sugar coat that moment.  She helped me by listening, not judging; just being with me, the two of us alone, in the middle of many people, honestly sharing.  It was good.

As an only child, the daughter of parents who also were only children, I grew up with few relatives.  My paternal grandmother, Aurora Estes, is credited with being responsible for my growing into a productive, worthwhile individual.  She was my source of unconditional love.  But it was a lonely life, with parents who were not supposed to be together and no brother or sister to share my pain.  So, for me, the opportunity to be a part of a large loving family is a life-long dream come true.

Another gift that Chris gave me is his children, Andrea and Quinn.  Quinn is married to Sarah (my precious dear, dear friend) and they are parents of our sweet little Kila, who doesn’t know about “step” grandmothers!  To her, I am her Gigi, just as I am to Katie and Christopher and Grammy to J.C., Conner and Brennan.  Kila is my baby girl.  Her parents bless my life with their brilliance, their adventuresome spirit and thoughtfully held political views, which never cease to teach me.  I love them all.

Andrea and Bill are lovely, hard working young people pursuing their dreams of higher education.  They persevere through the demands of work and school responsibilities, with their eyes on the prize.  They are best friends as well, rafting, hiking, biking, planting, enjoying the incredible view from their sweet mountain cabin.

A few years ago Andrea and Quinn lost their beloved mother after a long illness.  While no one can ever replace their mother, I am so fortunate to have them in my life.  Now, they are my children, too.

For me, my life has been enriched immeasurably as I became a part of the whole Daily clan.  I am one of the luckiest women in the world to have such a large family to love and to be loved in return.  These are the gifts I’ve been given because a wonderful man agreed to be my husband.