Over the next seven years we compromised, bargained, and debated the course of our lives. Our kids moved in and moved out, then moved in again. They moved in their friends, their spouses, and sometimes the friends and relatives of their spouses. Lizards, ferrets, and hamsters lived in cages in our laundry room while our cats roamed freely inside and out. The front door was never locked, there was no point. Keys were always lost, and the kids just came in through the windows.

I yelled and cajoled about everything--dirty dishes piled up in the sink and on the floor in the dining room, three-day old food under the bed, boyfriends coming and going at all hours of the day and night, and neighbors who acted like they owned the street and threatened to “take out the boys” for playing hacky-sack in front of our house. My husband maintained his serenity and sense of humor through it all.

Getting to work every day meant playing a game of rotating cars, six in a driveway meant for four. We survived a house fire, celebrated marriages, agonized over divorces, and rejoiced in our vacation time alone. During those years at Sutton Park, there was the pleasure of adding grandchildren to our clan along with loud and joyous holidays. Amidst the confusion of life, and without having much time to think about it, we were becoming a family in every sense of the word. All of us doing the things--the getting along things--that seemed nearly impossible when we first started out. The listening, complaining, advising, helping out, pitching in, and backing each other up that people do when they care about each other.

We sold the house years ago, and moved away, but whenever the family gets together, whatever the occasion, someone will bring up the good old days at “Sutton Park.” There is endless reminiscing about all the great times--the silly things we did, the arguments we had, the trials and tribulations we survived. It never fails that one of the kids will drag out the old photos and the family will crowd around to tell stories about the Christmases that can never be duplicated or outdone; stories about growing up in a family that was unconventional and, in its own way, unique.

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