It says something about how often and why I contact one of my cousins when I start the conversation with a reassuring, "No bad news this time." The calls these last several years have been about funerals. Mom's. Dad's. A cousin's wife's. It's almost a necessity to start an actual normal conversation with this disclaimer.
Rich is traveling with the carnival, not news if you've been following this blog. This week they're in Austin for their fair. Besides being the home of Hormel, it's the home of a lot of cousins who actually stayed in contact with our branch of the family. Dad was one of the youngest of ten, and one of his eldest siblings had children just a tad younger than he and Mom were, so they socialized a lot cross-generations. When I was five and Mom was too sick to care for an unruly kid who wasn't in school yet, I spent some time living with them. One of the few pictures I have of myself as a kid is at their house holding the largest Easter basket I'd ever seen up to then, and still the largest I've ever gotten. It was in their house I was exposed to the wonders of Howdy Doody and Pinkie Lee. Not to mention actual TV, something not available in our home until I was 12.
Rich texted his location and a request to pass along to the Austin branch that he'd be there this week, and where to find him at the fair. (It's called The Big Cheese, specializing in four flavors of cheese curds served with marinara sauce. Brenda should be nearby in the lemon, and I'll let you guess what she's serving from that stand.) Cousin Eileen was happy to hear how to find him. They'd known he was there last year but had no idea how to locate him. Now they do.
We went on to talk about other family members, and share our own news. I got to tell her about the new house and packing for the move in October, something she'd otherwise have had to wait for the annual X-mas card to hear about. I heard about visiting family, a daughter's upcoming wedding in Texas later this month (her 3rd, but a keeper this time), a grandson who seemingly recovered from autism at age 17, keeping everybody scratching their heads in wonder but delighted in the changes.
It lasted about ten minutes longer than I expected, as we both kept finding more news to share. And when it was all over, these still had been no bad news this time.