“You Haven’t Changed a BIT!”

I met my brother and cousins along the beach. I was on a cell phone with my brother, asking where he was. “I dunno!”

“Well, did you turn right or left at Sandy Bottoms?”

“You know what? I was so busy talking I don’t remember! But we’re heading back now.”

I turned left, which was the way we automatically turned when we were gathering shells. I expect that he turned that way, too.

“Okay. Do you see me off in the distance? I’m wearing a bright red hat!”

“Hunh?”

Oh, right. Red/green color blindness.

“And a green shirt….er, uh, never mind!”

I could see his tall, slim figure dressed all in black walking toward me in the distance, cell phone to ear, along with a couple of strangers. Must be my cousin and her husband. I hadn’t seen her for @ 15 years, and hadn’t met her husband ever.

We met and chattered for a bit before moving on. I was struck, as always when meeting my cousin again after a long absence, by how short she was. I remember her from my childhood as being this tall, queenly older cousin who was far too sophisticated to play with a little baby ruffian like myself. Somehow when we’re separated for long periods, my memory of her defaults to childhood, and I think of her as someone taller than myself, and much, MUCH older. I was very surprised to find that only four years separated us.

Later, she pulled out the photographs that her late mother, my beloved aunt, had kept of us all during childhood. I pulled out one of me aged three or four so that SwampDaughter will know what Zoe will look like in a year or two.

“You know,” said my cousin “you really haven’t changed a bit!”

I was a bit startled since I’d put on about 50 lbs. since I’d seen her last. Well, I’d seen her last at my grandmother’s funeral when it was snowing, I had on three or four layers of clothing, so perhaps she couldn’t tell I was thin under all those layers. OTOH, my hair didn’t have silver stripes, and gravity hadn’t really started to take its toll on my body. To my son’s great consternation (and my great amusement), he was introduced several times as my husband on that occasion. Oh, yeah, I’d changed.

“No, look at the pictures!” she insisted. “Look at your brother’s eyes, his jawline. As he’s matured, those haven’t changed!” Indeed, my brother’s mischievous eyes are still just as mischievous as ever. “And look at you! Your eyes are still the same laughing eyes, and you have the same big smile as ever!” Indeed, she has the same hooded eyes, round face, and smile as when she was my tall goddess cousin.

They’re leaving for Memphis for grandparenting duty in the early morning hours. Their daughters married men on the opposite sides of the country while they live in the middle, so they don’t get to see much of their grandchildren, and they are really suffering because of it. My uncle, however, has Alzheimer disease and is in a nursing home in a precarious state of health, and they cannot leave their state for very long.

I’m feeling pretty darn blessed that our grandkids are so close!

I hope we see them again sooner than in 15 years. And I hope the occasion isn’t for a funeral.

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