He's been part of my family for more than 20 years and I hardly knew him. I don't remember what year my mother married her second husband, Fred, but he has been dead for 18 years so it may be more than 25 years ago that his children have been part of my family.
I was very happy when my mother and Fred married. My sister had died a few years before and I was excited about having an extended family again. Some of Fred's grandchildren were the same age as our kids and, when they met, seemed to get along well. I was excited that my kids would grow up with cousins, albeit "step cousins."
But the blended family thing never happened. There were celebrations with Fred's family and celebrations with our family, but never joint celebrations, after the wedding. In fact, this photo, taken at my mother's 90th birthday, 2 years ago, is the only picture of the four of us together -- and that wouldn't have happened if my mother's stepson Ed's wife hadn't insisted that I get in the picture with the three Rynders kids (Fred, Jr., Ed, and Ellen). I actually cried because nobody had ever considered me as part of the family before. I will forever be grateful to her for that.
Since Fred died, my mother and Ed have spent a lot of time together. He is her go-to guy, the one who fixes stuff around the house and helps her with some of her problems. He and I have become friends, which is very nice. I don't see him often, but I do see him, and we occasionally confer about concerns for my mother.
When my mother broke her ankle, and was in a convalescent hospital for a couple of weeks, I came to visit her every day and on a couple of occasions, my visits overlapped with Fred Jr.'s visits. To my delight we learned that we had so much in common. While my mother slept, we sat there and chatted about computers and the internet and lots of other interests that we shared. More than 25 years as "family" and we were just getting to know each other. I liked him a lot.
For awhile we exchanged e-mails, which was so special for me because we were finally getting to know each other. But Fred had lots of health and other problems which severely affected his life. He moved into an assisted living facility and then (I think) a convalescent hospital. I didn't really see him much after my mother's ankle healed, but I felt for the first time that I kinda sorta knew him, finally.