My weekend plans to take my mother’s cousin out to lunch changed from Saturday to Sunday. Goodnight had to get to her zombie job Saturday evening and I wanted to allow more time to visit with Gr8′s cousin. That also allowed me the time to prepare a Sunday dinner to take along in the car for dinner at her house.
Despite driving in the rain, it was a lovely autumn day trip. Anytime I cross the border into Wisconsin, I immediately feel like I’m on vacation. What accompanies the feel of vacation is a cheery disposition that allows me not to worry about the upcoming work week.
Mom’s first cousin is my first cousin once removed, so I am just going to refer to her as my cousin. I like her very much.
I had been to her house once before when I took Gr8 for a visit. But that time, I was approaching the town where she lives from a different direction. The new route gave me new scenery that I had not seen before. And of course, new scenery means new landmarks by which to judge when to turn off the highway . . .
Yup, I missed the turn, but figured it out before I ended up in St. Louis.
The roads were winding, hilly, and thickly wooded. To be honest, it’s the type of Sunday drive I really enjoy, but . . . not in the winter. So I suppose I was making the trip to visit my cousin before the snow and ice keep me closer to home.
She was sitting by the window when we pulled up. I didn’t know that until I heard her call to me. She told me to just come in. Her lace curtains prevented one from seeing through the window, but when Goodnight and I walked in, I could see from where she was seated, that she had been watching for us.
We hauled the food into her house and then joined her at the table for a chat.
Her smile was big and welcoming and the tone in her cheery voice was medicinal to me. Maybe her cheery voice reflected how glad she was to have the company, too.
After a thirty minute-chat to catch up on what we’d all been doing since the family reunion, I asked my cousin if she would let me take care of setting the table and getting the food ready. All I had to do was warm up the BBQ chicken I had made.
She let me. do the work and I enjoyed doting on her.
After dinner, we moved to her sitting room for a good long visit. But first, she picked up the phone, called her son and asked him to bring his daughter over to hang out with Goodnight. Goodnight met my cousin’s granddaughter at the reunion, so the get-together would be easy for both of them.
The two girls walked to the community fish pond with a fist full of change so they could buy fish food and some old buns to feed the ducks too. There’s a charm to the small town activities that I miss and that Goodnight has come to enjoy by virtue of living with me.
The girl regaled us with the story of the pig she won the week after the family reunion. She won it in a greased pig contest. It was the second time she’d won a pig. She had our rapt attention as she described her winning technique. She wasn’t boastful. She was genuinely homey. She made me smile.
Her dad, my second cousin, resembles my great, grandfather. He has my great-grandfather’s name, too. He didn’t stay long because he wanted to watch football.
The sun was out long enough during our visit for the girls to enjoy being outside and while they were busy, my cousin and I got to work on the nitty-gritty chatting: family stories.
She told me about my grandfather, her dad’s brother. My grandfather died before I was born, so what I know about him has come as gifts of stories and photos.
From her sitting room, we both had a great view of the hills and valleys that spread out from the land my great-grandfather had farmed 100 years ago.
When it was time for me to head home, I asked my cousin if she would like me to leave the leftover food from our Sunday dinner.
She sat still for a moment, then smiled as she said, “You could leave the cookies.”
She turned to Goodnight and asked her if she would be coming back. Goodnight replied with a very sweet, “Yes.”
We will both go back for more visits. I will leave more cookies.
I didn’t take any photographs. It was raining as I drove to her house and it started up again as we drove away. You will just have to use your imagination for the winding roads. the hills festooned in their damp autumn colors, my sweet cousin in her flower-printed blouse, her white hair, the community fish pond, and . . . the cookies.
They were pumpkin cookies.