Family Matters 7/23/17

As most of you know, Ted discovered his birth mother’s family last spring and has spent the last year phoning, emailing, texting, and meeting some of this wonderful group face to face, through visits by some cousins last summer to the island and visits by other family members over the winter to Florida.  He even flew out to New Mexico in February to meet one of his mother’s brothers, Uncle Ken.  Ted and I have said so many times how this whole thing could have turned out so very differently, but we will forever be grateful that the family he found welcomed him with open arms and open hearts.

Two very important members of this family we had not met were Ted’s two sisters, Sheryl and Deb.  Deb invited us to come by on our way to the island, and we did that on Wednesday, July12.  There we met her, her husband Jack, and Ted’s second sister, Sheryl.  We spent a special afternoon with these two gracious ladies and came away with even more wonder at the acceptance we’ve been offered. We’re hoping to see more of them this summer.

We left Deb’s and drove to Spring Lake MI where we stayed with first cousin Dave and his sweet wife Diane.

We spent four nights with Dave and Di, and besides welcoming us (and Maddie and Bodie) as though we’d all known each other for years, they drove us all around the small, nearby towns in Michigan that Ted had known during the first five years of his life.

One of our first stops was in Holland where we found the home Ted’s adopted parents lived in until he was five. Ted and Dave walked up and knocked on the door, and a lovely couple in their eighties invited us all to join them on their back porch, where Ted told his story. This painting hanging in the house shows the waterside of the home as it was when Ted lived there . . .

. . . . and this is Ted standing in the back yard last week.  He remembered several things about the inside, although some changes have been made over the years.  It’s still a beautiful place on Lake Macatawa – and perhaps where Ted’s lifetime love of living on the water began.

We also spent time that afternoon in a lovely old cemetery in the community of Conklin, where some of Ted’s aunts and uncles and his great-grandparents are buried.

That evening another first cousin, Marv, and his wife Ruthie, came over for dinner, and once again that unbelievable family resemblance was in full view.

A sunset cruise on Spring Lake was on tap for one afternoon with friends of the Benninks, Dale and his wife Jean.

A perfect ending to another perfect day.

It had been almost 20 years since the Lachmann family had gathered for a reunion, but through the efforts of Dave and other family members, and working on short notice, over 50 folks gathered at the home of Marv and Ruthie on Saturday afternoon.

They came mostly from Michigan, but family also arrived from Ohio, Minnesota, Florida (that was us), and from as far away as New Mexico. (Ted is second from the left on the bottom row

Near the end of the afternoon everyone gathered at the end of the property, in the shade of old trees and told family stories. This beautiful family laughed and reminisced about times gone by, and you could tell it was something they’d all done for years and years at reunions- a family tradition.   The stories were as familiar to them as old family albums. But to Ted they were all new, and he soaked them up like a sponge.

I had planned to leave a little earlier than most to drive back and take care of the pups, so I tried to slip out unnoticed.  That wasn’t happening.  Someone said, “Brenda’s leaving now,” and this wonderful group of family rose from their chairs and walked up the large yard to hug me and tell me goodbye.  Yes, I cried.

There are no words to express how special and how loved this remarkable family has made us feel throughout this process.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster, and there have been times of great sadness and times of great joy.  Through it all though, what rises to the top is the beautiful and courageous spirit of a young woman many, many years ago who made a heart-breaking decision – because it was what was best for her son.  Through her family we now know her, and through her family we now love her.

I like to think she’s watching over all of this from Heaven and smiling.  And I know one day there will be another reunion.  And it will be the sweetest one of all.


12 thoughts on “Family Matters 7/23/17

  1. Oh, my. Beautifully written. You’re not making it easy to type! So, so happy for Ted and you to have had this lovely reception. Couldn’t have happened to nicer people!

  2. I love following this story…it is so amazing for Ted to find his family after all these years. So so happy for you Ted!!

  3. Yes, I think this was the best one of the telling of Ted’s adventures with his new family. You mentioned it was what was best for “her son” and I had been thinking all the way through…..I don’t recall you saying just why Ted was given up for adoption. After seeing this amazing, and BIG family, do you guys mind filling in that one last puzzle piece? Was he the only one given up? I know there are all kinds of extenuating circumstances that would lead to such a hard decision. No judgments here, just curiosity. You’ve been so generous and good at sharing it all and it’s been fascinating. It’s like a good book and you want all your questions answered before you get to the very end!

  4. This is such a wonderful journey you both have been on. I am so glad they have welcomed you with open arms! It just keeps getting better and better!

  5. Your loving family stories stir wonderful treasures. Not only for Ted and you, but for all of us you’ve chosen to share this wonderful journey with. Allen and I wish you so very much love and joy!! Enjoy your family time this summer.

  6. Beautiful. I am so grateful that this miracle happened for Ted. He worked hard to get this outcome and it is inspiring in so many ways.

  7. I’ve said it before, but it won’t hurt to say it again, I’m so pleased and thankful that Ted found his biological family and also thankful they were so ready to welcome him into the family after so many years. Wonderful people all around. Will some of them be visiting on the Island this summer? I hope so.

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