I was 6 years old when my Uncle Rod and Aunt Olive up and moved to California with my cousins Rick and Priscille. Priscille was my idol at the time – she was my only girl cousin in our little home town in New Hampshire. And she was so cool – she was 11. I asked ‘Mom, where’s California?’ ‘It’s far’ she said.
Fast forward 35 years. My brother reports that he’s visited our 4 cousins in California. You know, Rod’s kids. Wait a minute…
Fast forward another 15 years. I was traveling to California five years ago and hoping to visit only to find everyone had moved and everyone’s lost track of 4 cousins. To make a long story short, my other cousin Gerry, also from our home town, retired to Florida. Chatting with his new neighbor, they figure out they’re both related to Priscille! Gerry sends me a new email address! The response to my ‘I’m your long lost cousin’ message sent 55 years after we’d last seen each other was ‘Let’s make a visit happen!’ and ‘Here’s how to reach my sisters.’
Judy and Jackie were indeed born after my aunt and uncle moved to California and we had never met. They now live reasonably close to Doug’s aunt and uncle. So, we made arrangements to meet for dinner near Jackie’s place in Morgan Hill. What do you say to cousins you’ve never met the first time you meet them? ‘Hi, I’m Sue!’ And give ’em a hug!
Judy and her daughters Margo and Rachael live in Alviso. We’re sorry to have missed the girls as they’re both in college – we heard so many stories! Jackie and her husband Tony are relatively new grandparents to 8 month old Adelyn. We got to meet Addie, Addie’s mom Aimee (Jackie and Tony’s daughter) and dad Ryan, as well as her uncle, Aimee’s brother Scott. From the minute we stepped into the house, while driving to a fabulous restaurant downtown, throughout dinner, and for a good bit afterwards, we chatted and attempted to get caught up on 50 years of history. We did our best considering that for all of us, our family had just expanded. We officially became family when Echo the wolf/shepherd mix, Shasta the Husky and Huck the black lab gave us their canine nods.
Just a few days later, we arrived in Grover Beach, connecting with Priscille and her husband Frank. So what do you say to the cousin you haven’t seen in 55 years? Don’t remember – we just started trading stories and never stopped. We had old photos and lists of names, to which we added a sprinkling of each others’ different memories and made a few strategic phone calls to match them up. We shared things we each knew of the history of our huge family (Rod and my mom were 2 of 13 siblings), filling in each others’ gaps.
OK, we weren’t sitting still while talking – it seemed like we never stopped moving either. We had a theme going the whole time: catch up, visit beach, eat at interesting local beach spots, repeat. Priscille and Frank were gracious and generous hosts, planning daily events to highlight their wonderful beach community. We walked the boardwalk along the beach, saying hello to seals and sea lions. We drove Highway 1 (along the beach) to Rocky Point (just south of the massive land slide that closed off Big Sur earlier this year), visiting with the elephant seals that rest on the beach near San Simeon while on their annual migration. We also toured the 5 Cities area of the central coast and rode the dunes in their dune buggy. Although we missed them, too, we heard so many stories that we feel like we’ve already met sons Ryan and Nathan and his partner Lainey and daughter Ashley.
Our last night together, we decided we needed to chill, beach style. Pack up the FJ and dune buggy with dinner and gear. Head to the beach for sunset and bonfire, dinner and s’mores. And talk just a bit more. Fittingly, it was another gorgeous day. The humpbacked whales were putting on a show with their spouts and tails. The afternoon turned to a gorgeous evening, with clear skies and beautiful sunset.
Plans for the next meet up are already underway.