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Thursday, September 6, 2001

Once upon a time, I was a little boy with many young cousins. Most of them lived in faraway lands like Iowa, but there were three special ones who lived near enough to visit often. Suzanne and I spent many happy hours playing with Sharon, Chris and Kelly, the children of my Uncle Tommy. Then we all grew up, and my cousins moved away.

Until today, I hadn't seen any of them for over 25 years. But Sharon and her husband Dave are out this week from Arkansas visiting her father. Today Mom, Suzanne and I traveled over Adobe Road and State Highways 12 and 29 to the Napa Valley to see them. Many memories were exchanged, and many tears were shed.

Tom is still quite ill, and not all of his days are good ones, but he's had the pleasure of visiting with his oldest child for the last few days. Sharon is a wonderful person who somehow seems not to have aged in all these years, except to become even more beautiful. She has her father's keen intellect and sly wit. She was always fun to be around, and it was a great pleasure to spend a few hours in her company today.

And Dave is a great guy. I've only met him once or twice before, so it was enjoyable getting to know him better today. They both grew up here in Northern California, but they love it in Arkansas, where the land is beautiful and the people are friendly. They've been together since they were teenagers, over thirty years ago, and it was clear that they support and sustain each other through whatever good and bad times have come and gone.

family picture

Dave, Suzanne, Mom, Sharon, Michael.

We left each other with hugs and promises that it will not be so long before we're together again. We've shared many good times; I remember camping with my cousins when I was fifteen. We've had difficult times as well, and sometimes we haven't been able to be there for each other. But we were always in each other's thoughts. No one knows what the future holds, but it's important to renew these ancient family ties often enough that they stay strong.

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