Sunday, August 28, 2016

Auld Acquaintance

It's a bit unsettling, to grieve for something I never had.   
(Grieve?  That's an exaggeration, but I'm too lazy to consult the Thesaurus.)

Nevertheless, that's sort of how I felt last weekend after meeting my cousin.  Re-meeting, I should say.  To the best of our recollection, the last time we saw each another was 1959-60?  Six years younger, Gretchen would have been about 4 ... too unimportant to have made a lasting impression.  :)

Prior to our lunch date, I'd tried exuding a laissez faire attitude.  Whatever!
Privately - in spite of myself - my insides were doing somersaults.
An only child, I coveted the camaraderie DH enjoys with his extended family. 

So we met, we hugged (she, self-assured ... fit as an Olympian) and tried recreating our family's jig-saw puzzle ..... albeit, one missing more than a dozen pieces.   
Not for the first time, I sorely regretted not having paid more attention when my father spoke of his childhood.  

I was taken aback to learn, it was at my own father's urging, Uncle Edric "straightened up his act" and joined him at mortuary school.   (While they both graduated, only Edric made that his career.  I've absolutely no idea why my father took a pass!)

Recalling my growing-up years, I suspect my father was a bit lonely for his siblings - in particular his younger brother, fellow Navy mate and practical joker.  Whenever we'd check into a motel room, one of the first things Daddy would do is consult the telephone directory to see if there were any Willer's listed.

G and I smiled, recalling our fathers' favorite ritual -- consuming raw hamburger meat, specially prepared by the old German butcher her dad knew and trusted, followed by thick, stinky cigars.

Later, as Gretchen and I prepared to take our leave, I remarked what (our getting together) would have meant to our dads.
She concurred, "Except, they would have been disappointed we didn't have kanapras."
True that.  

My family always used 'kanapra' to describe an 'adult beverage' but now I felt compelled to ask,
"G, whatever language was that?"
"Ha! I think he and Uncle Ad made it up."

Despite our obvious differences, I expressed a desire we'd see each other again sometime.
"Well", she winked, "I plan to live to 100.  Everyone can come enjoy my grand meal, have a b.m. and go home.  You'll be there, right?"

Like our fathers before us, more than 1200 miles separate G and I.
Except that G and her hubby - both executives in the travel industry - skip around the country (around the world, actually), about as often as Tom and I drive into Scottsdale.

More so, there's a chasm I can't define.  Like mother's bracelet I slipped on at the last minute, it just wasn't a comfortable fit.

So yesterday, I revisited my mother's hope chest ... specifically daddy's memorabilia.  I may not have listened so good while he was alive, but I hope my father knows how I treasure what remains.  Can I show y'all a few?

My dad's baby book
ca. September 1912
The illustrations are amazing!
My grandmother, Adele, and daddy at Quincy, Massachusetts
Quincy shore w/ siblings.  (Gretchen's dad is the little guy in the center.)

Thanks for listening, m'friends

... what a comfort you are!

Hugs from Phoenix!