Last week I drove with my mom, brother and sister from Oklahoma to Manteca, California. My cousin Chad was killed in a trucking accident and we were going to attend his funeral. Mom, bro. and I traveled fours hours to Texas, where my sister joined us for the rest of the 27 hour trip. Yes, it was along ride. No, there isn’t much to see between here and there.
So, in the lulls of conversation, music and travel games there’s a lot of time to think. Thinking about quilts I’m making, a great t-shirt idea I have and thinking about how personal to get on this blog. I’m not much to air my laundry or tell you of my struggles. That’s just not me. Even people that have known me for years are surprised to find out about some of the things I deal with on a daily basis. But, I felt I couldn’t just post a project without addressing my cousin’s funeral. Honesty in blogging, right?
My cousin, Chad, was a year older than me. We both had the same red hair and freckles, and were about the same height. People often thought we were twins. We teased each other a lot: pinching, arm twisting, dunking in the pool, etc. We really spent a lot of time together as kids. He was on the side of the family that always got together for Thanksgiving and Christmas…that had to perform before we could get our Christmas presents, and that we saw at grandma’s house or came over to swim. When I graduated high school, he gave me a hair-dryer to take to college that looked like a pistol. I always thought of him and had a good chuckle as I held that gun to my head.
The funeral was a lovely service and at the point where they asked if anyone wanted to come up and say a few words it hit me. I hadn’t seen my cousin since about 1986. I realized then that I didn’t know him. I didn’t know the man he had become, I just new the teenage boy that used to strut around our pool. I was grateful for those who did comment, for I was able to see that he was a fun, caring, hard-working and very loved man. His family and friends will miss him, as will I. I’m grateful that we were both at least on Facebook and were able to communicate the last couple of years. I’m sad I don’t even have a picture of he and I together.
So, here’s where I’m going with this. Seek out your family. Go for a visit, invite them to come to you, or plan a family reunion. It just takes someone willing to be in charge and get the ball rolling. As one of my cousins said, “We all say we’re too busy to get together for a reunion, but we seem to be able to drop everything for a funeral.” Families live apart from each other all around the world. Write them, call them, Facebook them. I’m so glad I was able to re-connect with my family. It’s just too bad that it took a death in the family to bring us all together.
|Just the girl cousins. Manteca, CA. July 2012.|