Posts Tagged ‘cousin’

All In The Family

May 31, 2015

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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All the Bunnies Go Boom*

April 16, 2014

I mean, what else would all the bunnies do?

I am betwixt a rock and an Easter basket.

I just realized, even though I sort of knew, that this Sunday is Easter.

Not got a plan for that one.

I could re-enact a great scene or seven from my child hood wherein I hide my Easter basket in a hideously hard place to find it, then torment myself for not being able to find it, then eat all the chocolate in it when, in tears I finally locate the fucking thing.

Thanks mom for many memories of Easter trauma.

Not too closely followed thereafter by fond memories of being in kindergarten and having mom break the news that there is no Santa Claus.

I had already suspected, but my younger sister was abjectly heartbroken.

To give my mom some credit she was just trying to ease the pain of us watching our cousin, whom we happened to live with at the time, opening the largess of Christmas from the mom and the recently separated dad, pending a divorce, both parents had gone over the top for their solo offsprings affection.

Nothing says good times like having just turned six the week before, don’t remember at all if I did get a birthday present that year, and then watching my cousin rip into her presents on Christmas morning.

I can even remember the dingy fawn colored carpeting of the steps that my sister and I sat on that ascended from the living room to the upstairs bedrooms.

Bedrooms I did not have access to either.

My room was a mattress in the basement.

We didn’t have a lot as kids.

Mom had a room that she must have shared with my sister, my aunt had her own room and my cousin had, of course, her own domicile, which was smashed with Barbie’s and Barbie corvettes and Barbie Dream Houses and Barbie shoes, and more crap all Barbie.

And the gigantic, SOLID chocolate Easter bunny she had won at the Easter egg hunt in Warner park that Spring.

My sister and I got to sit and watch that too.

The torture of a child eating chocolate in front of two other little kids who don’t have any is horrid.

Watching my cousin savor that chocolate for over a week drove me to distraction and I think my sister to tears more than once.

If life was fair my sister and I would have found that god damn chocolate egg with the congratulations you won the whole damn egg hunt before it even started.

I mean.

She really did.

My cousin that is.

We walked out into the field, had just barely begun, wasn’t more than a minute, children flocking all around, scrambling to burrow through the bushes, it was cold, not snowing, but frosty, and grey overcast (if it doesn’t snow around Easter there’s something wrong, it typically does, the weather gets all cheeky, then either the weekend before or the week of Easter, it snows, at least according to my memory), my cousin hadn’t walked more than five feet when she bent over and plucked the plastic egg from the grass.

The winning egg.

Repeat sad face of Christmas when my sister and I watched from the stairs.

I think my sister might have won a little prize too, maybe a package of dusty yellow peeps, that were promptly eaten in the car on the way home, while my cousin sat proper and straight holding the biggest chocolate bunny in the world in her lap.

She didn’t even unwrap the thing.

The willpower.

Not something I have ever been able to muster.

Surrender.

Oh yes.

But willpower, like that?

No.

The fact that she eked out eating that bunny for over a week still amazes me.

My basket, little chocolate bunny, not a solid one, mind you, a few smatterings of jelly beans (hate jelly beans, never liked them, gross candy along with licorice) and I think one Cadbury egg cream.

I loved Cadbury eggs.

Gimme!

My sister’s basket might have lasted into the next day.

Needless to say, Easter in my house was never that much fun, although, my mom, in hindsight really fucking tried.

We always dyed Easter eggs.

With Paas Easter Egg coloring kits.

With the little wire egg holder and the little paper cut outs of bunnies and chicks.

I can remember the smell of the vinegar that my mom would mix with the Easter egg dye.

And then dipping the eggs and making stripes.

The eggs drying in the kitchen.

And then after we went to bed, my mom would hide the eggs.

Easter morning the hunt was on.

For the Easter baskets of course, but also for the eggs, and inevitably, I mean every year, one would not turn up.

Until weeks later.

And you knew where it was from the smell of it.

Whew.

My sister and I never ate the eggs.

Only mom.

I remember watching her peel an egg with a very satisfied expression on her face, the shell crackling down as she rolled it along the table top, then the shells falling away and the egg emerging a gray, brown, weird red or blue-green, from the dye soaking through the shell, and then she would put salt and a little pepper on it and eat it with the most smug look on her face.

It smelled awful.

Funny how much I like a good boiled egg now.

Not so much then.

It grossed me out.

I liked the hunt.

The adventure of finding was more appealing than the actual reward that was given, if any.

I don’t think we got more candy for finding the eggs, it was just the finding of the eggs.

And the basket.

I usually found my sister’s first, and would grouse about how easy my mom had hidden it.

Please, mom, in the oven, again?

Then I would become more and more morose as my own failed to appear and my sister happily gnawed on peeps.

Also an absurd candy that icks me out.

I don’t recall this, but according to family legend one year I found both my sister and my Easter baskets before anyone else was up and I ate all the candy in both.

Oops.

So, mom always made a point of hiding mine in the most challenging of spots.

The year my cousin won her foot high solid chocolate Easter bunny I had almost given up, it had taken hours and I still had not found it.

Only when I went digging for my mittens in the wicker hamper holding all the scarves and mittens and hats, did I find it.

Remember, Easter’s cold in Wisconsin.

I need my mittens to go out and I couldn’t find both, so I dug to the bottom, nearly toppling over the hamper, when my fingers grazed the handle of the basket.

At last!

Finally.

I burst into tears.

My mom and my aunt smoking cigarettes and drinking instant coffee in the kitchen laughed out loud at my cries of relief.

I could let go Santa, but I was having a hard time letting go the Easter Bunny.

I don’t have any plans to go hunting through the grass this weekend.

But maybe I will go out and get myself a little Easter gift.

Perhaps a new bonnet.

We used to get one of those too.

That was the best part for me, the new Easter hat my sister and I always got.

That’s what I remember the most.

My sister with her long dark hair in ring curls topped with a straw boater hat that had a black ribbon around it tied into a bow–the ends of the bow draped over the back of the hat and moved with it when she shook her head, and she was dressed in a white sailor dress with a navy ribbon square lined collar, ┬álace ankle socks and patent leather mary janes finished the look.

That’s my best Easter memory.

Getting ready to go to Easter Sunday dinner at my grandparents house in Lodi and my sister in her Easter bonnet rig.

And despite the poverty of it, looking back, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

I had a perfect childhood, give or take a chocolate bunny, given enough time and perspective.

It was indeed a grand life.

*No rabbits, chocolate or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this blog.*

 


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