Friday, August 9, 2013

Come One, Come All

A few weekends ago I hit the road (gosh I've 'hit the road' a lot lately...) to head to Wilmington for a wedding.

Mark, the younger brother of my best friend from college, was getting married.

Mark is five and a half years younger than we are, and his bride, Katy, is three years younger than he is.  So it might have seemed weird that the 'college friend of the brother of the groom' would be on the guest list.

But not for the Hams.

I met Matt my second semester of college, his first, when we were paired up in the same small group in our Young Life leadership training class.  And that was all she wrote.

Matt is one of the greatest people I know about keeping up with people.  And for someone who is, well, a boy (historically you have to hunt those down to even know if they are still alive), married, the father of 3 v-e-r-y young kids, is in the middle of building a house, and is crazy busy with work, this is even more impressive.  When anyone talks to him, they are what he focuses on, and when he asks how you are doing and what is going on with you, he asks because he cares and he actually listens to your answers.  In a time where folks look at their phones instead of into your eyes during a 'conversation', this is always so nice.

I would say that he makes a great effort at being like this (which he does), but I have learned more over the years that it isn't even an effort - it's just how their whole family IS.  Matt married a girl like this when he married Liz.  His brother is like this.  His new sister-in-law is.  His parents are.

I got to Liz and Matt's house and in the complete tornado of trying to get the boys to the car, Liz still stopped and gave me a huge hug and a "It is SO good to see you" before she kept going on her tear of making sure she had everything.  (I actually think the first thing she said was "Oh Lord Jesus they's a fire" which I will remember forever.)  I walked into Mark and Katy's rehearsal dinner to take photos and enjoy the celebration, and was excitedly hugged by all of them, and then their godparents, then Liz's mom, and then their uncles, and then their cousins, and then by the sweet girl who babysat for them growing up.  In all of the 13 (good GRIEF) years that I have known the Ham family, I have felt like a member of that family.  But the thing is, I am willing to bet that EVERYONE feels that way about all of them.  When you get a "It's so good to see you" or "We're so glad you are here" from one of these people, they MEAN it.  People say this stuff all of the time because they are supposed to.  But you can just tell when someone really means it, can't you?  Can't you tell the difference between an obligatory hug and one with some genuine love behind it?

When you go to Wilmington and there is something going on with this family, you will be included.  I've been a part of wedding parties and baby showers for Matt and Liz, of course, but also of family beach weeks and family 4th of July celebrations and so much more over the years.  And at any of those things, the number of people that weren't actually related to anyone in the family was always huge.  It's how they operate.

On my drive home I thought about my drive down there - how on my way I was thinking that I would likely just sort of do my own thing at the rehearsal dinner and the reception because Matt and Liz would obviously be busy, and really I wouldn't really know anyone else there to hang out with.  Silly me.  Silly silly me.

Instead I spent a weekend with dear, dear people.  In all they had going on, Liz and I really did get to catch up, Matt managed to take me to lunch on Saturday, I sat through the wedding with the world's cutest ring bearer in my lap, and did The Wobble (I know, seriously) out on the dance floor with the whole family just like I was one of the gang.  Because that's how they are.  When I told Matt's mom goodbye, I thanked her for including me in everything.  With a quick wave of her hand, she said "Oh don't thank me, you were on Mark's list from the beginning."  Once you're in, you're in. :)

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