For the first time in a good long while, I have an entire weekend off. I don't have to work; I don't have to study. I could do some house cleaning, but other than that, I am free...free as the wind!
This lends itself in an excellent way to family time. And it's a good thing that this weekend is so free because we have the possibility of having either of my stepsons involved in up to nine basketball games this weekend. It's a good thing that I have a lot of games downloaded to my cell phone because that is the only way I will make it through all that basketball with my sanity intact. We start out tomorrow at a tournament for Connor (age 13), head to a different county for Collin's (age 14) play-off game for the Diocesan championships, and then head back to home base to watch some games for both of their elite teams. Sunday, we have two games, again for the elite teams. Wow...that's a lot of basketball!
Tonight, we headed down to the town that Bill is from for the Knights of Columbus fish dinner that he, Connor, and Collin and Connor's brother Preston were working at. I went along for the fish and the company. While there, we saw one of our favorite people in the world, Mr. Ruppe. Mr. Ruppe is the father of some friends of ours, and he is among the best men you could ever hope to meet. He is one of those people who is always willing to give of himself for the good of others. He is someone who places his priorities in God and family, and he is a fantastic role model for me and Bill (his marriage is strong thanks to the fact that he and his wife work hard at it), as well as for Collin, Connor, and Preston. We are truly blessed to have someone like him in our lives.
Before Bill and I were planning to get married, I felt on the outskirts whenever we hung out with the Ruppe clan. It's a large, loud, boisterous family, much like the Caseys are. Their parties are legendary and used to go all night long. They are always up for some fun. When we used to attend these parties, I would invariably end up sitting off to the side, observing all the fun, not really in the mix. Sometimes, my brother-in-law's wife and Bill's cousin's girlfriend would be there, leaving me feeling like less of an outcast. I would imagine it was my own take on things, as opposed to how everyone else felt about me, but I never quite thought I fit in.
After Bill and I got married, we headed over to the Ruppe house one night for a visit. While there, I felt as if I finally fit in. After all, I was a Casey now, and the Casey and Ruppe families had been friends for many years. You know what? I was right. That night, Mr. Ruppe congratulated us on our wedding and welcomed me to the fold, telling me that I was family now. In marrying Bill, I had gained two families...my in-laws and this wonderful, crazy Ruppe clan.
In this crazy world, when sometimes husbands and wives (in this very house) might only see each other for minutes each day, it's nice to have time to share dinner with a great group of people who have as one of their missions to help the community. It might not be the community I grew up in or the community I live in, but it's a community I married into, and it means a lot to me. And now, as I type this, I hear Bill in the living room, laughing with Connor and Preston as they watch a movie, and my sweet puppy is chewing on his bone in the hallway. And I am thinking that I have got it pretty good...it's not everyone who can look forward to a whole weekend of family time.