Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Miracle Year: The Girls Together

(To the right: Shirley, me, Sandy - trying to figure out how the camera works!) Ever since my plane landed the day before, Sandy has been trying to contact another cousin of ours, Shirley (daughter of my Uncle Dean and named after my mother) who lives about an hour and a half away but who has been in Minnesota with our cousin Connie over the weekend, going through more old family photos for the upcoming reunion. Both products of our fractured family, Sandy and Shirley have only met recently themselves.

Finally Sandy connects with Shirley (who I only met briefly at my Grandfather’s funeral some 30 years ago when I also spent, maybe, 15 minutes at her house) -- and she says she can stop by Sandy’s on her way home. When she walks into the house it’s like we’ve known each other forever.

How does this happen, I ask myself in amazement. How can it feel so completely comfortable, familiar, ordinary and unexceptional to be with people I really do not know? Except I do. We do.

In minutes, we are into the pictures; in addition to the ones that Sandy and I have been pouring over -- some I brought, some she has – Shirley has more. We swing between laughter and tears. We all find ourselves correcting long-held erroneous information.

Like I had always thought my Uncles Harlen and Neil were twins; I learn they are not (!!). (Did my dad refer to them as ‘twins’ because they were ‘joined at the hip’? They did marry sisters. And they did keep somewhat apart from the rest of the family.) Other pictures thought to be Sandy are me, and vice versa. Some pictures have long been unidentifiable -- but now at least one of us can identify who’s who.

Some of Sandy’s friends come by as we’re seated around the table. More laughter. More tears. She and they have been there for each other. In some ways cursed, in some ways Sandy is very blessed.

To be continued...

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