I first wrote this post for a memory photo book Steph made for her parents’ 35th wedding anniversary in May, 2014.
I met the Whitings—all of them finally—in March 2013. Steph tried to alert me beforehand, and I thought having four sisters of my own that I was uniquely prepared for the group. Even so, I learned over that weekend that I still had a long way to go. I had learned to lose somewhat graciously in games against Stephanie, but I had never seen anything like the flying fury of Wackee Six at the Whitings. I had seen hoards of boisterous grandkids descend on my own parents’ house, but was impressed still at how six kids could have as much energy and produce as much noise as 17. I had seen girls giggle about movie lines I couldn’t recognize and break into song and dance, but I had never heard the likes of Scripture Scouts. I had stayed up all hours of the night rehashing family memories with my older siblings, if you consider 10:20 all hours of the night.
And I braced myself that weekend for the gauntlet. (Another youngest-child advantage: I had seen the treatment my siblings-in-law endured when they came to meet the Nebekers for the first time, so I was certain I was prepared for any trickery.) I wondered if something was wrong, however, because everybody was so nice! As in, “I could have gone out in Phase 10 four turns ago, but I knew how disappointed others would be if I advanced without them…” (words you will not likely hear me say, even on the slim chance I could have gone out four turns before anyone).
I’m certain the most memorable instance of that weekend was asking Rob to allow me to join the family. Growing up as a boy, you sometimes wonder how that future conversation will go. I found out when we arrived at the temple. While Stephanie and DeAnn were there early, I asked Rob if he could spare some time coming up for me to converse. In my mind I thought perhaps sometime during the weekend, or I could make an appointment in the days ahead to come back. I was caught by surprise when he responded, “I can meet you in the temple chapel in about 15 minutes!”
So there it happened. I changed quickly, aiming to get into the room before he so I could strategize my location for “the talk.” On a pew in the back-right corner, we huddled and I whispered my interest while the organ played and people filed past. I was doubly relieved when he approved, primarily because it was my first desire, but also because it would have been a long, uncomfortable temple session had he said no.
I returned to Seattle from my weekend visit to Marysville not only feeling so warmly welcomed and excited at the prospects of joining the Whiting family, but also grateful they had raised such a wonderful bunch, and had created a home that felt comforting, welcoming, and familiar to a new member. My thanks to both of you for letting me in!