I believe that family is what grounds us in our stories in the same way the first layer of color on the paper or the canvas grounds a painting.
I hadn't given much thought to why it's called a "ground," that under layer of color or colors buried beneath a painting, but tonight I think it's because it's what connects the painting to the surface it's painted on, literally and metaphorically, the way our families connect us to what what came before.
If I am drawing the lines of my own life, applying color and texture to compose my story (forgive me for mixing my metaphors), then family is what gives my story context. It's the hint of color that shows through the spaces where there is no paint. It is what gives the colors their tint, the way that red on top of blue has a purple cast while red on top of yellow is closer to orange.
Good, bad, complicated (aren't they all complicated), family is what informs our lives the way the underpainting informs a painting. There is no nothing that came before, no plain white canvas, no blank page.
If we are all made up of our stories then no matter how you write it or paint it or draw it or slice it or understand it, family is what was there before the story began, it's the ground, the context, the gravity that holds us to ourselves.