“You all take care of each other”. That is how my sweet mother signs off on family emails any time life is tough for someone in our clan. Which is fairly often when you count all forty-some of us. It might be as serious as cancer, or it might be as simple as job stress or a loss on the football field. Her solution is always the same. We pray. And, we take care of each other.

The ways to do that are as varied as the personalities involved, of course. We are a family of artists, writers, musicians, preachers, and teachers. So, the care often comes through words. Sometimes, though, the taking-care requires action. When our son became a single dad working a night shift, we all felt the urgent need to help him make a nest on the weeks he had his children.

We had lots of ideas. We are very good at ideas. But, it turned out that our ability to follow through on the grand plans was limited. Until, one day, our youngest daughter, Charity, said to her husband, “Maybe we should buy a bigger house and move Joe and his kids in with us for a couple of years? What do you think?”

I’m pretty sure I know what Ryan thought. He is the type of guy who would like to pause in a busy lot and debate the merits of two identical parking spots before making his choice. Instead, he said something like this, “Sure. Seven kids, three adults. Sounds fun. Plus, we get to negotiate a real estate market where houses sell within twenty-four hours of being listed. What could go wrong?”

Some readers will probably think I wrote The Marvel House about this situation in our family. I did not. The seed for this story about Madge and the Marvel family sprouted decades ago when I heard a news report about a “nest house.” I was already several chapters into the first draft before I discovered it would resemble us.

I tried multiple times to write a different book. But I had already given birth to little Quinn Marvel, and I could not take her nor her sisters back. The plot was set, and I persevered.

So did the family on Lake Street. Life was not smooth nor easy nor even appreciated by some of the participants. But, it was good.

The story of the Lake Street Household ended on a gorgeous wedding day this fall. Watching Joe’s children walk down the aisle to stand beside him, I knew I couldn’t have written a better story for any of them. The true Author had it all in hand.

Happy 2019. Take care of each other.