That picture right there is of my cousin, Len and his wife, Peggy. Up until this past spring I hadn’t seen Len in about 25 years despite the fact that he lives and works in the town next to mine. You see, I am a kid of divorced parents and Len is my cousin on my dad’s side. (Just to be clear, this is my biological father, not my stepfather that I have written about here on the blog. Rather, this would be the dad who may or may not still be alive and living in Maine – I honestly don’t know since I haven’t heard from him in over 15 years now. Ouch.) Anyway, once the grandmother that Len and I shared passed away in 1986 we really didn’t have anyone to get us together, you know? I knew stuff about Len, knew he was the fire chief in the next town, that he lived close by and was raising a family, but that was about it and it would have been kind of awkward, I guess, to just show up at the Fire Station and ask for the Chief. So the years slipped by and we had no contact or first hand knowledge of each other.
Enter my hero, my husband Dale. He happened to be at the Fire Station in the town where we work one day when Len was there for a meeting of the local chiefs. Dale noticed the uniform and the name and walked right up to him and started a conversation. Within a few moments he blurted out, “hey, this is weird to just say, but I’m married to your cousin, Carole.” Len was shocked – and thrilled! – to find this out and he was full of questions about me and my life and my family. I was really excited when Dale told me about their encounter and I hoped it would mean we would get together but I didn’t want to be the one to pursue it – it comes back to that child of divorce thing again, I think, and a mom who was always telling me that they didn’t want us anymore.
Luckily, I didn’t have to be the one who pursued it because my big, awesome, wonderful cousin reached right out to me on Facebook and we started conversing. It wasn’t long before the 4 of us met for dinner and we’ve been in regular contact ever since. We text all the time, we’ve had some other get togethers, and Len and Peggy came to our Halloween party a few weeks ago. You have no idea how proud I was to walk him through my house and introduce him to my friends. “This,” I said, “is my cousin.” I still get a little thrill every time I think about it because, as you all know, my parents are gone (well, except for that one in Maine, maybe) and my brothers are gone and I really only have Dale’s family. They are great and I love them all but they aren’t my family. Len, though, is my family and so is his wife and his kids and his sister Lisa and it’s awesome to be a part of their lives.
Tonight we are all having dinner together at the restaurant where Len’s daughter is a manager. Len hasn’t met Hannah yet and Dale hasn’t met Len’s kids yet and it’s going to be a big family pre-Thanksgiving love fest, I just know it.
I definitely have a lot to be grateful for this year.