Ryan, #3’s fiancé

When I met Kelly (#3 as she’s known here), we were grad students in London. The night we met, Kelly told me about her massive Irish Catholic family and the mirth and laughter they share. But if you had told me then I would be meeting them all, extended family included, in Maine – less than a year after meeting her, I would have called you crazy.

Ryan and Kelly in Scotland
But there I was, flying up to Boston, then bussing to Maine to see them all. I don’t just mean the immediate family, no, I mean the extended family, too, at the family cookout. Diving into meeting approximately 30 of Kelly’s closest loved ones.
To say I was playing it cool would be an outright lie.
I was nervous. I had heard stories about every single one of them, even you, Uncle Jim. Garrulous Kelly had prepared me but I was still unsure. So many new faces and voices. I was the unknown factor coming into their home. Would they accept me? This young man from southwestern Virginia most certainly wasn’t the English prince Kelly had told her family she was going to win over. When I landed in Boston and Kelly bounced up to whisk me away to Maine, I was preparing myself for feeling like an outcast.
I was immediately proved wrong.
Once I made it to Kelly’s house, I was peppered with hellos, hugs, handshakes, and bountiful happiness. Kelly’s mom almost immediately handed me a beer and before I knew it I was sitting at their kitchen table having dinner with seven, eight including Kelly, of the family – and it all felt so… natural. It felt like I was supposed to be there.

Ryan with Kelly and half of her siblings

Kelly’s family had welcomed me like I had been there for years.

By the time we made it to the family cookout the next day, any lingering concern was purged from my thoughts. Playing backyard games with Keegan, chess with Declan, eating pie and Guinness cake with Jessi and Sean, talking with Aunt Eve and Uncle Jim in their kitchen. It was hard to believe just how wrong I was and just how misplaced my nerves were.
This level of hospitality, inclusion, and joy brought about a tremendous level of comfort, one which I never forgot and only made my decision to propose to Kelly even more apparent just a few short months later.

They’re engaged!

Little did I realize that I wasn’t so much meeting the family, but actually joining them.

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