“Your Mom’s cousins are here,” my cousin’s husband Marty tells their daughter (an actress) who is calling from LA. My sister (Sir) Julie and her daughter Madison and my niece (Mad) and I (Aunt Spoon) are sitting in my cousin’s living room in Oakland, CA. Sir and Mad are visiting me in Sacramento CA to celebrate Madison’s graduation from high school in ND – their first trip to CA (and Madison’s first plane ride). Cousin Katie takes the phone from Marty and says “we’re watching a little Emma TV,” referring to us watching clips on the computer of Emma’s work as an actress.
I couldn’t fathom such a day ever happening all those years ago growing up in ND. That is all of us sitting in my cousin’s living room in their lovely, homey house with its spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay and its yard dotted with fruit trees. My family wasn’t much for traveling outside of ND, so we only saw Katie (my only cousin on my Mom’s side of the family) and her Mom – my Aunt Mona – (who lives in Sacramento) when they came to ND, which didn’t happen very often. I do remember a snowy Christmas or two when all of us gathered at our grandparents house – another homey home – in tiny Oberon, ND.
Katie gets off the phone and says “Emma said she wishes she were here.” And so do we. Until I moved to Sacramento a little over a year ago, I had only met Emma twice and I had never met her brother Jared. Lots of people grow up and live in one location all of their lives, as do many of their extended family. And even if they only get along reasonably well, they generally regularly gather together for holidays, birthdays and more. For the most part, I’ve never had that, and the older I get the more I treasure family time together.
I’ve also never been able to spend extended, quality time with my sister (I just have one, a year and half older than me) and her daughter. It meant that waiting for Sir and Mad to arrive was like waiting for Christmas when you’re little. It seemed like it took forever, and the anticipation was intense. But the day in June finally did arrive, and I was absolutely giddy when I picked them up from the airport. From start to finish we had 12 days together, and it truly was like 12 days of Christmas. It was non-stop sightseeing, taking in the local culture and great food (ethnic cuisine and local coffee shops were on my niece’s must do list), shopping (Mad and Sir are uber shoppers), fun, travel, exploring, spectacular scenery, beach time, and – maybe best of all – lots and LOTS and lots of laughter. Honestly, I thought I might have to use my inhaler a few times because I laughed so hard I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The 12 days flew by way too fast, and I wished they would never end.
My sister referred to this visit as a once in a lifetime trip. In a way it was as it is only once that we will gather together at this age with Madison as a recent high school grad. However, I do hope there are more trips together here in CA, back in ND and points beyond! I’d love to do it all over again.
(So what’s up with Sir and Mad and Aunt Spoon? Well the Mad makes sense, a shortened often texted version of Madison. Texting also resulted in Sir, when my sister accidentally typed it instead of sis and it just kind of stuck. For the story of Aunt Spoon and Aunt Fork – that would be Sir – click here.