I understood that their garrulous interactions were a sign of love. When they teased, they teased with affection. I saw that they meant me no harm, that they wanted to make me one of the family. And they, in turn, realized that I was neither snobby nor uppity, merely shy and reserved.
During the hurricane cleanup his father and I talked through the night, sometimes into the next morning. I learned that he loves the ocean, and he learned that I love his son. We came to understand each other.
I still can't be loud, but I can laugh at myself. And now, in the middle of the chaos when I'm overwhelmed and seek refuge, his father shares a glass of wine with me and we talk about the ocean. It took a hurricane to bring us together and to teach me that familial love comes in many different forms.