Thursday, August 7, 2008

We Are Family


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...

14 comments:

Michal said...

how strange to meet a cousin for practically the first time as and adult. and yet to feel like you already know each other. sounds like your long lost cousin will be a welcome addition.

Leslie said...

Love this...and I also love that you were so excited and willing to be so accepting too. I love the picture. She looks just as lovely as your desctiption & what a cute grandpa!

Laura said...

Oh my gosh! Mitzi??? I can't believe she's around again. I had the same experience. The funny thing is that when I saw the photo, I thought to myself, [I know her...somehow]. I wish I could have met her again too. Grandpa looks so skinny in this pic too. Weird.

Jeanette said...

That is really awesome. I never met any of my cousins until I was an adult. I have met some extended cousins through my family history research and we always seems to have an instant connection. Something about those genes. :-)

Becky said...

Yay for family! :) How great to meet someone you've always known. Beautiful.

I just gave you an award over at Abba Stories

:)

Sonja said...

There is something so connecting about family. More than just the relationships we form through time, but just knowing that we came from the same people or the fact that we share some genes. I think it is so fascinating. I just met some cousins for the first time last summer and had a similar experience. We grew up very differently, but had so much fun getting to know eachother. Tge funny thing is, I think it helped me get to know ME better.

I just have one grandparent alive too. I should call her. :)

Kim said...

What a wonderful reunion. I find it so sad that sometimes when parents divorce the kids pay the price by losing touch with half of their family. I am glad she got to re-connect.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

Kim said...

What a wonderful reunion. I find it so sad that sometimes when parents divorce the kids pay the price by losing touch with half of their family. I am glad she got to re-connect.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

Annie said...

Wow! Neat times for you at Grandpa's.

(And I am just a wee bit amazed that you have a tiny baby and made cinnamon rolls - you go girl!)

Amber said...

Wow, how totally cool! I met many of my husband's cousins last weekend and can't figure out how I've gone without them in my life....

Packer Family said...

I miss you blogging everyday!!! I know, I know, you have a baby, but still :(

Tama said...

How wonderful! and exciting.

Jen said...

Wow, what an interesting experience that must have been!

There is a woman I used to work with who looks exactly like my mom, and I always wondered what my mom would think if she met her in person. Craziness.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am sure meeting your cousin and seeing your grandpa have been some of the highlights of your trip ... that and your ice cream consumption :) !!