One of the great benefits of moving to here is connecting with family I never knew...or to rephrase it, they knew me, but I never knew them. Only their names. A cousin who is 15 years older than my father came to New York in the 60's and never came back. From dialogue that I would hear as me and cousins my own age would run around my great aunt's house, she was clearly the bohemian type. I was in awe of her by the words and snippets of conversation I would hear.
So as I packed suitcases all those years ago, my father gave me her name and phone number as family to reach out to. After dragging those suitcases up and down streets parallel to Riverside Drive I called. We arranged to meet one Saturday afternoon and I had a brief moment of fear that I wouldn't recognize her. The only picture I had seen of her was circa 1972. But that was quickly put to rest as she was the spittin image of my grandmother. Her soul very calm despite the chaos around us.
Fast forward years later, to today and I have met her husband, her first husband, and her son whom I met for the first time last summer. Who is only five years older than me, has a restless spirit like his mother and lives less than 20 blocks away from me. I got an invite to lunch at the house ( where the second husband grew up) along the Hudson and me and the class weary cousin drove up, asking each other questions to get to know each other better.
Rustic trimmed house, bright white walls and lots of sunlight with the Hudson gleaming down the road. The family I did know from back home ( her sisters and 82 year old mother) were there and it was a mini family reunion. Witty dialogue and old recipes sprung out from my great aunt. I always remembered her growing up, saying bits of wisdom back then.
Before she left to go home she grabbed my arm and smiled and whispered
" You're only as old as you feel. Live life, make friends and you will be happy. That's what I do. I don't waste my time worrying about what others do. It's not for me to judge, only God can do that...I can see in your face you are the same way."
I smiled and nodded yes.
"Ooh it was great to see you! Wait till I tell your grandmother I saw you!"
Me and my cousin waved goodbye, helped with the dishes and drove home. Grateful for the small break from the hustle and promising to stay more in touch. And meant it.
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