Last week I was asked to give a presentation on “Legacy” at a family reunion. My stepmother’s family reunion. Yes, I thought it was a little odd at first, but Mark Miner asked me because writing is a form of legacy and I have an extensive list of publications. I was on a panel with two people who share actual genetic material with the Minerds, a woman who did scrapbooking and a man who had written two memoirs, one about his experiences as a police officer and one based on his mother’s diary.
The experience got me thinking about what it means to be family. I realized that one of the reasons I found the anime series Blood+ (which features heavily in my novel Because the Angels) so compelling, was that it grappled with just that question. Throughout the series, Machiavellian forces are seeking to rule the world using compounds made of the blood of Saya and her “evil” twin sister Diva. The protagonists are out to defeat them, of course, but in their deepest hearts, what they are looking for is family. The times that Saya is happiest are with her family in Okinawa, with a father who adopted her as well as her two brothers. Her “chevalier” Hagi is utterly devoted to her, but concedes that he had never been able to make her smile as they had. (Given the importance of bloodlines in Japanese culture, I would be interested in knowing if this concept of a happy family composed of genetically unrelated people who love each other sacrificially was meant as some sort of statement by Blood+’s creator.) Even Diva, who is treated as a spoiled princess by her chevaliers, at the end wants nothing more than to take care of her babies. In Saya and Diva’s final, climactic battle, the battle to save the world, Saya kills her. As Diva turns to stone and crumbles (too complicated to explain here), Saya sees her as she could have been, just a young mother, lying on the grass, enjoying her twins, and the full realization of what she has done, killing her own sister, is one of the most powerful moments of the series. Diva’s chevalier Nathan then says, “Poor Diva—all she ever really wanted was a family.”
I did say her handlers were Machiavellian, right?
My own stepmother, Sharon, has always treated me with great affection that helped teach me how to be a step-parent myself when I married. I have another relative, who in a brief, unhappy marriage brought maternal compassion, three sisters and a brother to a neglected, alienated stepdaughter who was starved for a real family, and those relationships have lasted long after the divorce. And Mark Miner himself, who has a passion for finding Minerds/Miners/Minors wherever they may be told me that he couldn’t love his adopted niece more.
Blood may be thicker than water. But love is a whole lot stronger.