Before I went off on my own and figured out what chosen family meant to me in that context, I have had plenty of experience with people my parents added to our family.
Martin had been that guy- like a brother to my Dad (who's never had a brother by genetic connection). They co-owned two boats when I was growing up: Snakes
and later Random
(Yeah- they weren't very purposeful sailors). Most of the construction projects either took on around the house: building my mom's studio in the back yard, iirc- Martin's back deck, the revamped bathroom that had a sauna in our basement- all done because we couldn't be bothered to leave the cookies out for the construction elves. His was one of the earliest numbers I memorized.
For a long time, Martin seemed to be the type who didn't seem like he was going to settle down and be domestic, but Carol showed up when I was still young enough to dig on the Smurfs (Hm, around 7?) -- so, really, she's been around most of the time. When I was 14, Matthew Alan was born, then a few years after, David. Matt was one of the few babies I ever looked after. I probably had most of my diaper experience thanks to him.
Sadly, Martin and Dad didn't really spend much time together the past many years- I did see Carol last time I was in Ohio, which was lovely. But, not so much the big man.
Dad called today to tell me that Martin was in a motorcycle accident yesterday while riding with Matthew Alan- that Martin was killed instantly.
I'm still in shock. I'm angry this happened. I'm frustrated I am so far away and can't be there to focus on feeding the grieving. I regret - as always- I won't be able to talk to him again, or hear his snarky laugh and commentary.
Carol and Martin- Mom's ubiquitous back yard party, 2008
You are already massively missed.
So in case you need a reminder, my biker friends: for the love of all that's good in the world, be careful out there.