What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word “families?”

For some folks it evokes warm, “fuzzy” feelings. For others, just the opposite.

I grew up in a large Roman Catholic family of Sicilian immigrants. My family memories are the warm, fuzzy kind.

How about you—what are your childhood memories?

“Jim,” one of my closest childhood friends also came from an Italian immigrant family. I loved him like a brother. But after we both left home as young adults, we drifted apart.

A few years ago, “out of the blue,” Jim called me. We had a nice chat and, as you might expect, we started talking about our families. Jim had an unhappy childhood, and even today harbors hateful feelings toward his father, now long dead.

About the same time Jim and I talked another close childhood friend contacted me. “Sara” and I had a fun time recalling our younger years together as friends and neighbors.

Sara grew up in a warm, nurturing family. She spoke fondly of both her parents, whom she loved dearly. They also are long dead.

Two different people. Two different families. And yet Jim and Sara are brother and sister.