By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Family can be so many things.
It can be your immediate family.
It can include close friends.
And it can include neighbors so close that they are truly family to you.
This is the kind of family Lisa and Scott Straight feel blessed to have.
First, there are husband Scott and son Jarod.
She met Scott at a bar. It’s the kind of story she laughs while telling and Scott just shakes his head.
“He was on the line dancing team. I met him there. I thought he was nice.”
She was dating somebody else at the time, but that soon ended. She knew who she wanted in her life. A couple of weeks later, she was talking to a co-worker at the retail store where she worked about what a nice, sweet man she’d met, someone who was “very giving, caring and an all-around nice guy.”
A customer said she knew just who Lisa was talking about — her cousin Scott Straight — and Lisa gave the woman her name and number.
She and Scott dated for a year, were engaged for another year and have been married for 17 years.
Jarod was born one day after their 10th wedding anniversary. They never thought they’d have children. There were fertility problems and they did “everything under the sun” to have a baby. Nothing worked, so they stopped all the treatments. And then Jarod came along.
A pipe fitter who works for a local heating outfit, Scott is often on the road. Lisa is a stay-at-home mom who also is caretaker for her grandmother, and Scott’s father and grandmother.
They attend church together. His father comes over to play with Jarod.
“They’re so ornery. He’s taught Jarod how to cheat at (the card game) war,” she said with a laugh.
Both sides of the family are very close, she said. Her neighbors are so close, they’re like family, too. And she loves it that way.
There’s the couple who are like extra grandparents to Jarod. The couple who are like brother and sister to her and Scott. They have keys to each other’s houses. They even vacation with each other.
If she’s out and thinks she left the iron on, somebody will go check.
Every year, there are huge holiday parties.
“Family is important to me,” Lisa said. “It’s the way I grew up, to have that support. The old-time neighborhoods like when we grew up. You know your neighbors. You stand outside and talk with them. You have them over for dinner. Everybody knows everybody in the neighborhood.”
Soup when someone’s ill. Rides to the grocery store. Watching out for each other. That’s the kind of neighborhood she grew up in.
“Some people don’t know their neighbors,” she said. “This is how I was raised. You don’t expect anything in return. We put stock in family values.”
That’s how they’re raising little Jarod, she said.
Sometimes it’s hard to do that, she added.
“Kids get to where they demand things. It’s hard to get them to appreciate what they have. But you don’t get something every time.”
Jarod wanted something from the store the other day. He didn’t get it.
“He was bummed but he got over it,” she said. “He needs to learn the value of a dollar.”
She knows the value of being a mom.
“The best things are the hugs. Jarod will tell me he loves me. He’s just very sweet. And ornery at times. We tried so long to have him. He’s just a miracle. I appreciate every day with him.”
She and Scott love to take turns tucking little Jarod into bed, reading to him and talking about what he did today.
“We take that private time to talk and relax. There is no TV, no distractions. It’s more open.
“And Jarod likes to tell jokes,” she said. “Sometimes he’s really funny.”
Scott helps out “as much as he can,” Lisa said.
“He helps with his dad on Wednesdays, takes him to supper with Jarod.
“He calls it their ‘three-generation dinner.’”
She admits with taking care of her family and her elderly extended families, “It’s hard to get a balance,” she said.
“I joke with Scott that his dad will have food in the fridge and we’ll have to order pizza tonight.”
Like any organized worker, Lisa has a schedule that helps keep her on track. And she makes sure there is always “Lisa” time.
“Thursday is my day off,” she said. “I have to find that balance and routine. I work well with a routine. I write on the calendar where I’m going and when.
“Jarod will set the table. Scotty will straighten the kitchen. We all work as a team. You have to. That’s how you work things out.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.