Sunday, June 8, 2014

Third Cousin From The Right

Several months ago, a friend of mine posted on Face Book about a family reunion he had just attended that prior weekend. Ironically enough, some of the people he had listed as family members had the same last name of some of my own extended family; which was an unusual last name in my mind. I spent several hours trying to make a connection, via phone calls exchanging information with my mother, then back again, to that post on FB. As it turned out, there was no blood connection, but it sent my mind to wondering how much we really are not in touch any better than we could be. 

At times like these I am reminded that my family tree, both branches from which my particular limb stems, are not the most connected that they could be; as the roots have spread throughout different states on the map and those branches have created limbs of their own. But in reality, none of that is intentional; families are just busy building their foundations. Raising their children, being present for everything in life they will love and want to participate in, helping them to follow their beliefs and form their own opinions; because that’s how we were raised, weren't we?  

Several weeks ago my cousin who was within months of being the same age as myself; passed away after six years of fighting one form of cancer or another. I spent a night in her grandmother’s home probably 40 years ago now, but I’m not sure if she was there or not. I have no memory of her and have only recently seen some pictures.

These are the things I wished I had known about her and what she liked: did she laugh loud and with her whole body, her favorite author, country music or rock and roll, the smell of a saltwater ocean or fish-filled lakes, comedies or romantic movies, and what were her biggest passions. From the pictures that I saw, I feel sure her children were her life and that she fought until the end like a champ; determined to leave on her own terms. She was a strikingly beautiful woman with a smile that lit up the world, radiating all that was within.  

Family's and the people in them are all characters in a book. Whether they are the foundations, the wallflowers or the color. We should embrace all the branches, limbs and leaves that make up who we are as people. Character runs just as deep as blood, facial recognition and flaws. I wish I had decided this before now; before I had lived a half century myself. I wish I had slowed down long enough to take the time to ask questions before, more and often, and of more people. It makes me sad to think of all the memories that are lost, whether in the minds that can't remember or in the minds of those gone before us. They called her Leandra, her memory will live on.

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