Family - my own definition
The word "family" has to do with "familiar" - it is derived from the Latin word "familia" - which means both family and household. I would redefine family as very important people in my life - no matter if they are related to me by genes or by friendship. In that sense, I have the fortune to have quite a big and very diverse family.
First of all my father Rainer and his significant other Lisa. My father is a civil engineer and Lisa was a sales clerk in a large German book store in Aachen before she retired.
Then my brother Mirko and his wife Claudia, who got married in 2005 with me as the best man. Mirko has been working in the service area at a gas station and Claudia is the store manager of a bakery. My brother got into a car accident in 2010 and has not been able to work since then.
My aunt Vera, one of the most important and influencial person while I was growing up as she and her husband Manfred were basically caring for me (on the left with my second cousin Bastian and on the right her first selfie with me).
Bob's parents Michele and Mike are one of the sweetest couple I ever met (here with Bob). They really care about their children and their significant others. We often see each other as they are living in Gainesville.
My grandparents Trudi and Willy from my fathers side. They always were there if we had problems. And although they were fighting quite a lot, you knew that they really loved each other. My grandpa Willy died in 1999 and my grandma Trudi left us to be at his side in 2002. You both will be truly missed.
My grandmother Hedi on my mothers side. She is very caring and very organized (in her last years before her death she developed Alzheimers disease which was devastating to her and us). When my brother and I were little, she was visiting very often and took care of the household and us. My aunt Evi is definitely very lively and hectic, but also caring and protective.
My cousin Alexander from my mothers side and his girlfriend Karola. They live in Frankfurt and I visit them occasionally there. They're both very easy-going and always up for a good laugh.
Grandma Jeanette, Bob's grandmother on his fathers' side, lives in Iowa with some other family members. She is really nice although we only come to see each other occasionally.
Bob's older brother Michael and his wife Marika. They met while Marika was attending school and Michael just started working after he finished college. They first moved to Jacksonville and then to Denver. Marika surprises us with delicious Christmas pastries from Finland - yummy! The birth of their daughter Annika in 2009 made our family grow bigger and marrier.
Bob's younger brother Tom graduated - as Bob - with a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida and moved to Denver, where he met his wife Karen, who also graduated from UF. After the birth of their son Thomas John (TJ) II. in November 2007 and daughter Kendall In Decemeber 2010 they are now living in Gainesville, FL.
And here is my whole (blood-related) family from Germany. The picture was taken at a family gathering in the summer of 2014.
Some other important people in my life should be mentioned here as they made me the person that I am today. My friend Christel and her parents Thea and Walter have been very influential on me throughout my puberty and in dealing with my coming out. My piano teacher Brigitta is still a good friend of mine. She helped me with a lot of things by teaching me how to express my feelings through music. After my parents' divorce, especially my aunts daughter Annette and her family as well as her son Dietmar and his family helped me a lot to get through these times.
Thanks to all of you - I'll always be thankful for having such a caring and supportive family!
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