All In The Family


I turned around, his small body pressed to me.

“Chip,” he said soft, with a slight lisp, he smiled, “chip,” he whispered again.

Oh squeeze my heart little cousin.

I hopped a tortilla chip off the platter to his waiting mouth.

He took a bite, then held out his hand for the chip and went back to his favorite uncle on the couch.

Who proceeded to feed him a bite of cake.

Family.

Grandma.

Auntie.

Uncle.

Three boy cousins and their wives (what are the wives of first cousins called?).

And then the grand babies.

Which would be my second cousins–three more boys.

Me.

Food.

Oh my goodness so much food.

Grandma homemade food.

I just about fell over.

Roast pork and chicken and potatoes and salad and the most amazing paella I have ever, ever, ever had.

I wasn’t able to eat the Hawaiian pineapple cake and some other things but getting to watch everyone eat and talk and cozy against each other, cousins and second cousins running in and out the patio screen door, was such a gift.

I got to hold a four-month old second cousin in my lap and look in his wide brown eyes and see the genetic markers of the family passing themselves merrily right along.

A part of.

Once again with my family.

My aunt hugged me as she headed out the door, “don’t be a stranger.”

I won’t.

I don’t know when I will come back down to Chula Vista, but I will again.

And I can see myself making the trip up to my Uncle’s in Nevada City for a holiday, perhaps Thanksgiving?

Make some more memories.

Have some more connections.

See more things.

My Uncle and my cousin, his youngest son and wife, took me out to Balboa Park today in San Diego this morning and we spent the morning into the early parts of the afternoon wandering around the grounds.

We went to the Historical Museum and saw the Dr. Seuss exhibit, which was truly amazing and also wonderful and silly and made me laugh out loud.

My second cousin, his dad, and my Uncle sat down a Dr. Seuss designed table and cut and colored Cat in the Hat paper hats, cut them out and then wore them around the exhibit.

I laughed so hard I thought I might pee my pants.

While they were working on hats I discovered a color in your own Dr. Seuss character postcard table and I sat down and colored up three of them right away, one for my mom, one for the boys I work with and one for my cousin and his family–they were such wonderful hosts, every one really–which I plan on sending as a thank you card.

I didn’t actually get myself any postcards from the museum.

I was having too much fun hanging out in the museum to color more.

I scooped up the three I colored on and galavanted about the rest of the Historical Museum, snapping photos wherever I could.

Then off to Rose Garden where I was happy to discover roses that actually smelled like roses, and a walk through the Japanese Tea Garden to quietly walk through the paths and marvel at the giant coi fish in the ponds.

Prior to the museum we also went through the Botanical Gardens, wandered through the Spreckels Organ pavilion and checked out the fountain in the front.

It was a lovely meander.

The sun burned through the fog and they day grew warm.

We headed to a late lunch, had sushi, ran a few errands for my grandma and then back to the house for dinner and all the folks.

Sitting here, the dishes washed, the lights being dimmed, my uncle having one last piece of cake, my gram getting ready for bed and I am filled with a kind of gratitude I find hard to express, but it is there, full, golden, sun soaked and happy.

Quiet.

Seeing photographs of my father as a boy.

My grandmother showing me his Boy Scout uniform from when they lived in Oakland, my eyes welled and my heart grew three sizes bigger.

Then she pulled out a package from my sister.

It was a strange, but so sweet, assortment of crochet items that she sent my grandma in 1986, she would have been eleven or twelve.

I gasped when I saw the postmark on the box, Windsor Wisconsin.

“I save it, I thought it was so sweet,” my grand mother said, “I don’t know what they are exactly, but you could see she was just learning and I had to keep it.”

I told her about my afghan, the one she had crocheted for me when I lived in the House in Windsor and had shared that I was in the coldest room in the house, the one directly beneath the attic and it was like living in Siberia, so she crocheted me a red and white and pink afghan.

I had lost it.

Not lost it as in lost it, but it had been destroyed in a flood in Madison.

It was in the same stack of boxes my ex had bought down in the basement when we lived on Mifflin Street the year it flooded our basement.

I also lost all my Christmas ornaments.

My ex had tossed everything out.

I was so hurt when I discovered that.

“I’ll make you another!” My grandmother told me, “just tell me what colors you want.”

My eyes welled.

It’s been a wonderful trip.

An amazing gift of reconnection and discovery.

Listening to the squabbles and talks and the hugs and the kisses and hearing all the stories between uncles and aunt and cousins and wives.

I had just a kiss of regret watching the easy give and take of love, I wished for a partner to share it all with, someone I could lean into and hug and kiss on too.

I know that will come.

Things like that happen when you are happy and secure and surrounded by family.

It just happens.

Like love.

Blooming.

An unending flowering of love.

Family.

My family.

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