A week ago I drove seven and a half hour to a city with which I have little in common.
But what I have common with it makes it one of my favorite places to visit. My baby cousin Chandra, her husband of thirty-two years Phillip, with occasional visits from their kids Andy and Megan, 29 and 23 respectively live there, or, in Andy's case about three hours away.
We reminisced about family members no longer with us, and, except for my brother, that's everyone.
We focused mainly on our mothers (they were sisters, my mother being the eldest). Chandra still marvels that I'm the only person she's ever known her own mother never yelled at. It's true. She never did.
I'm not certain why, but my guess is that she was a senior in high school when I was born, and it might have been cool to have a nephew.
In her later years, I became a confessor priest, a confidante, telling her stories of her own upbringing that she didn't know.
We reminisced about our sisters. Hers, Ruthanne, was a dynamo. I loved her energy, her insight and penetration. She died twenty years ago at the age of twenty-six, leaving behind her husband and two young sons.
Mine, Deborah, would work tirelessly for any cause that wouldn't make her a dime, and make anyone laugh at anytime. She died in 2006 at forty-five.
Chandra and I promised to always stay in touch, and we will. I'll visit at least once a year.
I think the world of her husband Phillip, too. Each of us is cut from a different cloth, but we've come to know a little about each other over the years. Most important to me is that he's been good to Chandra. He's a wonderful man.
The picture I'm posting, he too. The one that makes me look like a young Alfred Hitchcock. He took it in his mother's antique shop.
We ate too much. We drank too much (I did, anyway). But I'd do it all over again, and will.
The seven and a half hour drive back found me fighting through mighty thunderstorms, and not all of them rain.
I'm home now, and miss them already.
Here's to my cousin Chandra! My cousin-in-law Phillip. Andy and Megan.
I'm proud to call them my family.