Then, when I turned 9, our parents split. We lived with our mom, but saw our dad weekly, sometimes more.
When I was 14, our dad remarried.
By the time I was 18, our dad and stepmom had had two children of their own, and I'd gone from being the baby to being the second oldest of my dad's now four kids. Fifteen years separate me from my younger brother, eighteen from my sister. When I was in college, they were in diapers. When I married, they were 8 and 6.
Blended families aren't news, not anymore, but their very normalcy belies how transforming these relationships can be for those who actually experience them. When an age gulf this wide separates siblings, it can take time for them to cohere as a family unit. I've always loved my brothers and sister, all three of them, but we were a bit Noah's Arklike: we came on by twosies, twosies. Our relationship was built over holidays and visits, not passing the syrup at the breakfast table.
We spent a week learning all we could about Greek yogurt...
Shared daily (sometimes twice daily) Greek salads...
In seven days, we visited three islands. Took ferries, squeezed hands as our prop plane missed its landing, talked about our dad, killed flying insects, dodged speeding mopeds, watched sunsets, and ate plates of marinated anchovy, grilled octopus, and yogurt in many guises.
Mostly, though, we made up for lost time.
Turns out, passing syrup across the breakfast table isn't the only way to get to know someone.
And it's never too late to start.