We’re born to our parents. We love them or not. The former is a great blessing, the latter a burden. We make friends, some for a lifetime, some for a season or two. They sustain us and connect us with bonds that are freer than filial because we chose them. We find mentors, those whose wisdom and example carry us forward in our personal and professional lives. We seek teachers, secular and spiritual who shed a light that we can follow in our intellectual and metaphysical growth.
We are blessed with certain people who fall into a category in between. As relatives, they posses that certain magic that blood carries, uniting us with the lineage and history that belongs to us. As those of the generation of our parents they represent not only our past but also on some level our future (am I going to look like that some day?). But as non-parents or siblings, they come without much baggage. Their jokes are funny without being repeated a thousand times. Their advise is sage without being overbearing. We love them unconditionally. The are rare and precious precisely because they are irreplaceable.