Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Glue That Binds Us

Family faces are magic mirrors.
Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past, present, and future.
~ Gail Lumet Buckley


My cousin Kristi was here for a visit, coming from her home in southern Idaho. That's us, pictured above (she's the thin one!) You'd never guess by looking at her that she's a mother of four grown children and grandmother of seven, would you?

She and I have always been a happily envious of one another. I wanted to be thin and pretty, like her; she wanted to be able to sing like me. I wanted her straight hair; she wanted my curls. She's always claimed (erroneously) that I'm more creative: I know for a fact that she's the better cook. We've joked through the years about the human condition of always wanting what we don't have. We're not only family, we're dear freinds -- and that's a great thing!

We've been close since we were small kids. I grew up in Salt Lake City and every summer, my folks would put me on the bus (alone - can you imagine doing such a thing nowadays?) and send me three hours north to my Grandma's house, in southern Idaho. I'd get to play for a few weeks with all my cousins in that area: capturing frogs and lizards in jars; feeding the deer that would wander up to Grandma's back door; going to the annual rodeo fair. It was a wonderful experience for a "city" kid from Salt Lake.

As we got older, we grew apart somewhat. She got married to a dairy farmer and started having those four kids. I went to school and started working. We'd write letters back and forth, and occasionally see each other when her Mom would come to visit my Mom, or we'd go to Idaho for family reunions.

Then in the mid-90's, her husband was severely burned in a accident on their farm. He was flown to the burn center in Salt Lake, where he remained hospitalized for four months. During that time, Kristi lived with my ex-husband and I (and my Mom, whom my ex and I cared for) so she could be with her husband every day. It was a long and emotionally painful time. But Jim slowly recovered, and they both lived with us after his release so he could make his follow-up appointments every day.

As often happens, good things come out of the worst things. While her husband was healing, Kristi and I bonded once again -- this time, as mature married women. She helped see me through my divorce; she stayed with me while I was healing from gall bladder surgery; she was there for me when my Mom died in 1998. When I moved away in 1999, to remarry and start a new life, she'd fly out and visit. We always see each other when I go "home" to Salt Lake.

So I guess you can tell that she's a pretty special person in my life, and I loved having her here for a visit. My spirit has been fed.

I have been blessed to make new friends here in California. But there's nothing quite like family and old friends to keep me connected and grounded. Sharing a long history just feels so comforting. It feels good knowing there's someone who can look at me and think, "still crazy after all these years!"


Until next time...


21 comments:

Marci Rae said...

What a beautiful piece of writing, Pattie. I finished reading with tears in my eyes. What a treasure it is to have such a relationship: where you pick right up where you left off each time you meet. Those relationships are rare...and priceless.

Wendy said...

Wonderful post, Pattie. I come from a large extended family, and have an aunt (who is more like a cousin -- we are the same age) with just this relationship. There are photos of us eating saltines together at age 3 -- we wrote to each other all through childhood and the college years -- now we are mature, married women and the minute we see each other, we pick right up where we left off, no matter how much time has passed.

Life is rich with friends and family like this. :-)

Thanks so much for your comments today on my blog! You were so helpful. I always love to hear from you. :-)

grammy said...

I feel like I know you better. That was a nice read. I have a best friend that I grew up with that I feel that way about. Our kids call us Aunts. She lives in New York now (which makes a great place to visit(: She may be moving back to Co. and that is so exciting to me. Glad you had such a fun visit.

Manuela said...

Thanks for sharing with us Pattie. I also have a cousin that I grew up with and even though we no longer leave close to each other it's always a lot of fun to reminisce about the things we did as kids! (I actually went to Italy with her 2 summers ago and we had a blast :)

Cookie Sunshine said...

It's been a while since I've visited. I'm so glad that I didn't miss this post. What a very precious relationship. You are blessed.

Hugs

Needled Mom said...

How wonderful to have had the opportunity to bond again despite the situation. I know that you must have been a tremendous pillar of strength during her time of crisis. It is terrific that you have maintained the contact and still enjoy each others company after all this time.

Both of you are beautiful people.

Have a great weekend. Stay cool!!!

Midlife Mom said...

What a lovely post! To share that kind of history from all those years is just a treasure. I'm glad you two reconnected!

Well our plans for the fundraiser have been postponed due to the weather forecast of heavy rain and wind. Our resident vet said it just wouldn't be safe for the animals to go through that much water, especially the little guys. We contacted two weather guys and they both said that they would postpone so we did. It is rescheduled for Oct. 11 so hopefully we will get a good day. This is the first time in 15 years that it has been postponed! We just figured better to be safe then sorry. Will keep you posted.

nmburleson said...

That was such a great post. You are both lucky to have each other! Thanks for sharing!

Kristi said...

Thanks you for the great visit and the touching blog! Now I want to add something. You didn't mention how you have touched my life. You were there with love and support when I went through a very trying time with personal issues. You were there to give me refuge when I needed a safe harbor from the storm. (OH how I wish you still lived in SLC and closer to me) You were there with kind words and wisdom when I needed guidance. I am glad we can say we are friends, That is more important than being cousins! We can choose our friends and I am glad we chose each other. I love you more than chocolate, and you know how I feel about chocolate! Ü

Karen said...

You sound like such a warm and caring person that it is not surprising that you have this wonderful relationship with your dear "old" (but very young-looking!!) friend.

Beautiful post. It reminds me of a song from my daughters girl scouts...
Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.

new*me said...

to have a friend or family member you are that close to is really a beautiful gift! I love the pic of the two of you.

Kathy said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. Having special people close to me in life is very important to me.

JC said...

This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Sherre said...

There is something wonderful about a shared history! Thank you for sharing the story of you and your cousin.

Deborah said...

Wonderfully beautiful post. I was really moved. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Lora said...

What a special friendship! You truly are blessed!

Susie said...

What a loving post Pattie! Sometimes good friends can feel just like family, but in your case you have family and good friend all in one.
You're blessed to have each other.
Love the picture of your smiling face!
xo

carla said...

so beautiful.
from the 'grass being greener' piece to the safe place to fall of old friendships.
been where I live for 8 years and still miss my old friends/home.

Miz.

NanaKaren said...

Oh, the memories! Thanks for sharing this special story of you and Kristi. Glad you two have renewed the "glu".

Kathy said...

Isn't it great to have that second acquaintanceship? My sister Mary (14 years my senior)and I never really had a chance to get to know each other well when I was young. She married and moved 12 hours away and I would only see her when she came home for infrequent visits. It wasn't until I had married and had children and she had her second family at the age of 44 that we became "equals" and had so much in common. We became fast friends as well as sisters at that point. I think you are so lucky to have each other!

Hanlie said...

There is nothing that feeds the soul like a good friend... I always feel like I've been replenished after spending time with my best friend. Great post!