So here it is. Enjoy this insight to this wonderful family I married into.
Dear Mrs. Swager…Welcome to the family, Janice. Welcome also to the growing ranks of those of us proud to call ourselves "Mrs. Swager". It’s a very useful title. You will hear it used a lot, such as, "Hello Mrs. Swager", "Nice day, Mrs. Swager", "do you really think you should let him eat that off the ground, Mrs. Swager?" and my favorite, "how many kids DO you have, Mrs. Swager?" It’s a beautiful name, and I hope you wear it proudly.
None of us would be "Mrs. Swager", had it not been for our Matriarch, Kathryn Swager. Those are some big boots to fill. She seemed to always have it together. Every time I saw her out with a handful of kids, she always had a smile on her face. I wish I’d had the opportunity to know her better, but from what I am told, she had a way of dealing with everything with a certain joy and grace. Karl’s "Cowboy kicks" that led to Luke’s broken wrist (Twice!) had to be frustrating, but probably not as much as a certain brother peeing on another certain brother from up in a tree. Or another Swager-boy infuriating his sister until she threw a knife at him. (We all know he had it coming!)
I wish I had her patience.
I can’t imagine what you thought when you met the rest of us "Mrs. Swagers". We don’t seem very much alike. Edith, Jennifer, Arlea, Julie, and myself couldn’t be much more different from each other. Some of us scream and shout and others run, and others bravely enter a war zone. And some are in the Army.
We do have a few things in common. For one thing, we’ve learned to speak the language. "Reverend" is a term that mostly means, "I agree with you". You don’t want to be a "Reeves" or a "Clemmie", and "McRoin" is a Mexican guy that used to live with Walter.
Another thing we have in common is our father-in-law. We all love Dad. Here’s my advice about Dad: if he wants to show you what he needs at the store, and reaches for his pants, LOOK AWAY!!! Other than that, listen to him. He knows so much, and wants to share it. Ask him about his family. It is our family, and our children’s heritage.
The best thing I have found that we have in common is a love for our Swagers. It is amazing to me to see that love every time we’re together. When I hear Edith upset at Walter, I remember her sitting by his hospital bed reading to him from the Missalette and praying with him out loud while he was unconscious. I see that love in Arlea when she hands a twin to Adam at church, to take them up for their blessings, together. Love is there when Julie is corralling the boys so that Eric can…well, be Eric. She is the glue that keeps the family together. And how much more could Jenni love Hugh than to give him the greatest gift ever—his very own kids. As for me, are you kidding? I never knew love could be so strong. He has seen me through the very best times and the very worst. These Swager-boys aren’t perfect, but they are some of the finest men you will ever meet. Their hearts are beautiful, like their mother’s.
We all wish that same love for you and Karl. They say men marry someone like their mother. Marriage may be the greatest compliment Karl ever pays you. It is clear that he sees the same beauty in you. Love him always, and steer clear of his "Cowboy Kick". Welcome to the family. We are here for you if you need us. Welcome also to the very blessed, elite group of those of us sisters fortunate enough to be called "Mrs. Swager".