Your prompt for this week:
One of the things Mercury retrograde is notorious for is that certain people from your past appear out of blue. Just last week I saw a childhood friend on the street. Years ago, this person was my best friend, until it became clear to him that I was gay — then suddenly he wasn’t. When I saw him, I started thinking about the boy I used to be: the anxious, closeted 12-year-old. And as I saw this old friend, I was surprised to realize I felt nothing. I felt free, I guess. The sight of him didn’t inspire anxiety because I understood I am no longer the person I used to be. ” Alex Gaertner
Write about a time you encountered someone from your past after many years. How did it feel to be suddenly reacquainted with this person? What did it reveal to you—about who you were and who you are now?
As a child, we visited Ottawa every couple of years. In Ottawa were our aunt and uncle, ( later a step-uncle) and three cousins on my mother’s side (Allen, Liz and David). The cousins were a few years older than us, so were married and had children while we were still teens. After my mother and aunt died, that connection faded. We still kept in touch with Liz and visited her and her family once in a while. My sisters and I even flew to Seattle for her daughter’s wedding brunch. But we lost touch with the two boys, Allen and David. I connected once on my trip across Canada to Newfoundland, and though I sent Christmas cards to them for years, there was a rare response.
On my dad’s side, we stayed close to all of our cousins for our childhood while we were young. Though from all across Canada, we united at family reunions and various unfortunately some funerals. Two of our cousins, Lois and Linda, who moved frequently due to their dad’s military career, were pen-pals to my sister and I for several years. We traded teen angst from Germany and New Brunswick to Saskatchewan. Again, except for a visit to one of them on the grand cross Canada trip, we lost touch.
One day I was invited to join a national committee to do with my job, We had meetings held yearly and sometimes twice yearly in Ottawa. By chance, two of the cousins from both sides of the family reached out to my sister. Both lived there. So, my first trip to Ottawa, I contacted them, David and Lois, and arranged to meet. This turned into friendships with both the girls from my Dad’s family and with David from my mom’s. Meeting their families also added to the pleasure. What a blessing !!
We started off, casually, meeting for meals, and found a lot in common, and both families then invited me, and my husband when he accompanied me, to stay overnight. It was unnerving at first, but soon it became the norm to go to these meetings and extend my stay to visit with the long lost cousins.
The first time staying with Lois I found an easy hospitality and much in common. Though our lives had varied immensely, our tastes in music, food and coffee were identical. Left alone in the car while she bought some groceries one time, she told me to choose a CD and play music. I opened the glove box and the CD’s I found were almost identical to those in my own car and home, and those that weren’t, I wanted to buy! I knew that I would find a relaxed host and easy conversation when I returned.
In David, I found the gentle, caring nature that I remember in my mother and aunt. He remembered our childhood days, loved to take me on car tours to the old homes and even the cabin they had in lake country. He informed me more about my grandmother who I had loved but lost early in my life. My meeting days are long over, but our phone calls continue, as well as a visit in the mountains in 2012 and Arizona in 2018.
An added side benefit to these trips to Ottawa was connecting with the seat of our government and a city that has much to give. It reawakened an interest in politics and political history, that became even more enhanced with the pandemic, racial unrest and of course the controversial American election.
Both cousins had reached out to my sisters and I after a family loss. Lois’s son had died suddenly in heart surgery for a congenital defect, and David’s brother, estranged to him for many years, had died of Cancer. Perhaps in the loss of one of our family members, we begin to treasure our roots and find common bonds in common genes. Or perhaps, time was right for us to grow friendships with families long lost.
Whatever, I am so glad I made that difficult phone call asking to meet and that I found more family to love.
I need to make plans to return.