FAMILY. This word has so many meanings depending on who you ask. I have a saying which I live by when I define family: “Blood is so overrated.”
And I mean that. It really is. I have started to write this piece so many times in my head, but it was hard as I am about to reveal something that many may not know. I am not a Zuill genetically…..kinda..’cause after carrying a name for over 40 years (since August, 1978, I found a copy of the deed poll a couple of years ago and was fascinated!) the Zuill blood undoubtedly has infiltrated my system.
Let me explain…
I was born in 1974 and my mom got married four years later. My daddy legally adopted me (I didn’t know that then) after being in my life from two years old. And the rest is history.
I have no memory of being Carla Phipps—damn, that was even weird to type! Carla Zuill is the only person I know. My last name is my brand, my badge of honour. I vowed never to change it even when I get married. Why? Because above all, being a Zuill represents unadulterated love.
Growing up with a grandmother who was a lily white Minors from St. David’s and aunts, uncles and cousins who fell across every aspect of the colour spectrum, I never felt out of place. Every holiday we laughed together, and as time passed, at every funeral we cried together. We’ve experienced triumphs and defeats. And soldiered through everything else in between. Together.
The word step, half or adopted has never once been used towards me (I think I’m the only first cousin who is not blood related, and yes I am crying as I write this, but a good one, not one of sorrow!) and I think some of my little cousins have no clue about the ‘truth’. Each of my children carry the name Zuill. They love their grandfather, uncle, aunt, great aunts and uncles and cousins with a vengeance. I don’t even think they know that I am not a blood Zuill, because all they receive is unconditional hugs and kisses (more tears).
My reason for sharing this is simple. I want to tell my family thank you. Sounds weird, yes, but I am so grateful that I have them. They could have easily turned their backs on me when I was introduced to them as a child (which some have experienced in other families) and they could have shunned me when my parents separated (how many people have been ‘family’ until the ink dries on the divorce papers or the couple splits?!) but instead they held us closer. Without even thinking about it.
Now that I am in the United Kingdom, nothing has changed. We talk daily, and laugh and share the stupidest things sometimes, and the best part is that we can have robust discussion, disagree and the love continues without skipping a beat.
That is love. Our crazy, Zuill love. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Should you one day end up in a blended family, embrace it and give it all you got…cause you really don’t know what you could be missing!