One of the things I've always loved about many African cultures (as well as Latin America cultures) has always been the strong connection of the extended family. When I say 'family' I really include all the friends and neighbors who are so close they may as well be blood relatives. It is only when I am talking to friends who come from families with only one cousin or who have a nonchalant attitude about hanging with their siblings and parents that I really realize just how darn lucky I am. My sister is by far my best friend and love hanging out with my relatives. In fact, 2 weeks after I came back to the states, one cousin was visiting with his family from California and a simple Sunday bbq quickly turned into a 50 people together with every surface covered with kids, adults yelling at kids, pets running around, and more food than you could believe and this wasn't even a wedding!!
Now, this isn't one of the most salient characteristics of the typical American family so you can imagine how articles such as this one published in the NY Times warms my heart. It's about a centenarian who lives alone, housebond, in a one bedroom apartment in Murray Hill. While she may be physically alone, but she certainly isn't 'alone!!!' Over the years, Ms. Goodyear has gained a little network of neighbors and friends who regularly visit her to read to her or just hang out. These are just regular New York citizens who have met her and continue being in her life even after they have moved to other states or traveled to other countries. It's cool that a 101 year old woman who may not have blood family still has a 'family' of people who can care for her and make sure that her last days aren't lonely.