Due to the evils of work - I missed the biannual working bee up north - and the glorious flowering bulbs on Dad's grave.
I missed the camaraderie of my mad family while we work like navvies - digging holes, weeding gardens, concreting posts, moving concrete...
I missed the chats and reminiscences. The jokes and pranks. The sheer silliness of us being together.
And people wonder why I'm so close to them. Why I spend every second Sunday with the sisters (as many as possible). Why we prefer to sit together at an extended family gathering, instead of catching up with relatives we don't see that much.
Because they're my friends.
Because the shared history we have - the shared love - the shared stories - the shared joys (and jokes and pranks) - and the shared sorrows - has made us a whole.
Because our parents made us that way.
Because my sisters married men who fit in - although, as Muzz has been in the family only 6 months less than me - he's blood now.
Because each of us sorrow and grieve for the sibling outside the circle. Grieve for the roads and choices that have made it difficult for us to be truly whole again.
Because, although each of us had/have a very individual relationship with Dad and Mum - we shared them. Every weird, kooky, loving moment.
Who else understands that history? Those joys? Those sorrows?
Who else can understand the visceral reaction I have to the smell of that icky pink stuff used in tiling? Why that - and the sound of a concrete mixer - means home?
And, by understand - I mean, truly understand. Without words. Without explanation.
They are my family.
They are my life.
They make me whole.