The other day I found myself in a Parent Trap/Twilight Zone experience. Imagine meeting a complete stranger but feeling like you are looking in a mirror, or looking at a face that you've already seen a thousand times before. It is quite surreal. I had this very experience as I walked up to the lady waiting for me at my Grandpa's house.
I had the baby in one arm and Grandpa's favorite cinnamon rolls in the other. I love seeing Grandpa. He is getting old enough that every year I worry that he might not be there the next time I come. I only have one grandparent, and he only has one arm. His knees are bad, his hearing is shot, he is practically blind, but his heart gets bigger and his actions sweeter with every year that passes. Today, though, Gramps isn't the only one I'm excited to see. Today I get to meet a long lost cousin for the very first time. As I come around to the back of the house, with both arms full, I am met with instantaneous smiles and a hug from Mitzi.
Mitzi is the oldest cousin I have on my mother's side but I had only met her once when I was about 2-3 years old. I have no memory of her outside two old photographs taken when she was about 14. My uncle divorced her mother when Mitzi was only about 4 months old and pretty much all contact with her ceased until she was 14. She came to visit at 14, when I was 2, and was never seen again. About a year ago she made contact with our family and just last Tuesday I met her for the first time. And it is as if I've always known her. How could I not know her, with her familiar face, familiar sense of humor, familiar everything? It was like looking at my mom, and my two other aunts all mixed together. She even loves to yard sale as much as the rest of us. The best part was watching her swap insults with my Gramps and joking about his stump with just as much love as any of us.
The best thing about Mitzi is that she has been put through a lot in her life, but she was absolutely pleasant. She was willing to talk about her past, her present, and her future with such candid honesty and good humor that she made me feel like we had always known and always loved each other. I wonder if I could have been as carefree and pleasant to a new family that I was just meeting for the first time. Maybe, if it was so obvious that I belonged...