Tonight, Mandy and I did something we don't very often have a chance to do.
We went out together -down to the place where she works -and had a bit of "quality" time together. She drank Ginger ale (as she was my designated driver) and I had a chance then to imbibe a bit -not much, but a little anyway -and tossed back a few brewskis while joking around with a couple of the regulars at that bar.
It was fun -the most important part there of this little trip. It was -for Mandy -also maybe a bit cathartic too as we talked openly between ourselves of issues -good ones, bad ones, semi-in-between things as well of lots and lots of things.
But most of all, we laughed and we laughed long and hard at some of this serious stuff then -just to try to clear our heads, to clear that smoggy air we've both been held hostage to at home of late.
We came home and she went to bed while I went to check on my e-mail and write a few responses that were needed there as well.
It was in doing that -checking my e-mail and writing response notes that I came across an e-mail I'd received a little earlier this evening from a cousin of my Mom's -one of her first cousins who is one that I know fairly well.
And it was his message tonight that brought me down a peg -more than a peg or two actually -from the celebratory mood we'd been in when we arrived back home.
Seems that while we were out, a brother of the cousin who had e-mailed me tonight -had passed away.
So I had to compose a note to e-mail to all the rest of our extended family -to the few first cousins of my Mom's still left -this passing now takes that number down to five from the original 39 grandchildren of my great-grandparents. Sad to see those numbers dwindling down you know.
And in thinking of this particular cousin, it reminded me that he was the one of our extended family who, one year, showed up at our family reunion wearing a baseball hat that said "Old Fart" and his wife came wearing a similar hat but her's said "Old Fart's Wife" and it was that couple -that cousin and his wife -who were responsible (although I don't think they ever knew this) for showing my kids that yes, there Grandmother's family could be and often were, people who truly loved a good time, lots and lots of laughter and practical jokes and also, who enjoyed Bingo too!
Before that particular reunion, my kids were kind of thinking that this was maybe the dullest group of people they'd ever met cause they often didn't understand many of the old family stories and the jokes that emanated from them -I wouldn't have either probably if I hadn't had the good fortune to have grown up with my grandparents and thus, through them, had known almost all of my great-aunts and uncles and their children and grandkids too on that side of my family tree.
And so then tonight as I am getting ready to go to bed, to sleep -I'm thinking of this cousin -Carl Andrew Bengston -and what a hoot he often could be. How great his wit was as he would pick and jab -all in good humor -at his siblings and also, at other cousins -of varying degrees if he knew them well enough to know their little weak spot here and there. Nothing mean -just good clean humor and fun!
And I thank him for having worn those hats to that reunion about two decades ago which opened my kids eyes to show them what a crazy, often really zany, family they were born into and in which they actually did belong!
Carl -I'm wishing you well now in the rest of your journey as you make your way to a huge reunion of our ancestors somewhere in the great beyond and here's hoping once there, you find a great seat at a big old Bingo table then, with the caller giving only the best letters and numbers and that Aunt Esther is there to greet you too, to lead you around to everyone there, seated and playing cards or bingo -wearing crazy hats, pulling pranks again too on each other and that you have rest, no pain, winning hands, lots of laughter there -much as what you knew from those folks way back when -in the "good old days!'
In memory of a cousin -Carl Andrew Bengston -whose quick smile, silly giggle, love of teasing family members, playing bingo and wearing goofy hats made him easily one of the best cousin in the extended family of which my children, my grandkids, are a part of.
Peace to you, Carl and Godspeed you on that last journey home. You will be missed, greatly!