This past weekend I attended a fiftieth birthday party for my cousin Liz. It was one of those whooping and hollerin’ country western parties that had a DJ blasting dance tunes under twinkling white lights, plenty of chilled beer and hearty food, and tables covered in checkered tablecloths and filled with cousins and family.
It was a night with unexpected discoveries, gifts in the form of real people like Janet, one of my first loyal blog readers, who floored me with her gregarious personality. And Lori, who touched me in a heartfelt conversation about Life. And later, there was happiness for Andrea and her new beginning.
And of course, there was the birthday girl. The sensitive, kind, witty, Lizzie, who has the gift of plowing through superficial small-talk and getting to the heart of things in the matter of minutes.
It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was an engrossing conversation waiting to happen because it had been a while since I’d seen my cousins. Yes, we had been together at the hospital, and later at Grandma’s funeral, but funerals don’t have the sound of cowboy boots clicking on a wooden dance floor. Funerals don’t have a classic Bee Gees song blasting in the summer air, that can magically erase lines off your face and propel you back in Time, so that you’re suddenly...
staring at those steely, family bonds that were there at the beginning.
I think it’s a fascinating experience that happens with cousins. No matter how many years go by, and how many miles we travel during our lives, we’re forever connected by wispy memories that contain childhood pieces of us, precious gems from our past. And we’re linked by bloodlines to grandparents that we each knew from different angles. And loved in our own private ways.
I had this thought when I passed through Andrea’s hallway and glimpsed Papa’s picture hanging in her new home. “Hey, you’ve got that same picture of Pop, in your house, don’t you?” my brother asked me.
And I had nodded, as I glanced wistfully at his photo. Papa is here too, I thought, because of course, we shared him.
And later, when Andrea whispered how cute Auntie Jo-Jo looked in her red cowboy boots, I smiled back. Because we share Jo-Jo. She’s my Mom and her Auntie.
Funny how the memory works.
Sometimes it only takes a simple photo or a pair of red cowboy boots to remind us of the powerful bonds that are always there, tucked safely away in our heart.