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Monday, October 18, 2010

A 2Cuz Lesson

My lovely second cousin (2Cuz) and I had another get-together yesterday, and I never know how things are going to go when we adventure together. We attended an enchanting production of Travels with my Aunt at the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma.
The Cinnabar

I was thankful that we were not going shopping, which requires that I keep track of her purse and hastily retrieve the 20 dollar bills that somehow tumble out of it.  In addition, a theater date would save me from witnessing uncomfortable situations with local watcing her attempts at bargaining flea-market-style at Macy's while complaining about the high prices and shoddy merchandise. All sweetly done, of course.

 Yes. A theater outing . What could go wrong? Surprisingly, nothing much did, though she had complaints about the condition of the lobby, which - I have to admit - smelled like cat piss, a smell I know too well, unfortunately.

She slept through most of Act I and then at intermission grumbled that she couldn't understand the actors' British accents and found the show trying. Well, duh...of course, she couldn't understand their accents. She was asleep! At least she didn't snore, but the up and down lurching of her head as she tried to stay awake was amusingly distracting.

Now, here's the surprise. At intermission I took advice from a very wise writer(thank you, Patti) who once suggested that I question 2Cuz about her life and use her tales in my writing, which seemed like a great idea and perhaps more interesting than focusing in print on her foibles and our less than perfect visits. With this is mind, I pioneered off in a new chatting direction.

 I am not quite sure how it happened, but something conversationally snapped, and I discovered a shocker: she was 14 and living in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was bombed. How, after all our time together, did I not know that? She related how the community was without communication and didn't know what had happened for 48 hours.

Then Act II began and, happily, she was alert and enjoyed the rest of the play as much as she could, considering Act I was a black hole for her. The Pearl Harbor discussion will be continued; I want to know see if I can score some details of what that experience was like for her.

I have spent my life mostly in the present, a good place to be, but at the same time I did not question family members, now gone, who surely had great stories to share. And, weirdly, now that I am a senior, I think I have tales to tell, but...guess one is asking. All the young family members are juggling jobs, busy schedules, childrens' activities, and the day-to-day trials of managing the giant responsibility octopus that is life. Been there, so I understand. Other side of the coin: While I have anecdotes to impart, I certainly don't want to be one of those rambling old farts sitting at Thanksgiving dinner boring everyone to death. Isn't there a middle road here?  

Things I wish I'd asked:
1. Dad -his experiences as a WWII bombadier
2. Mom - what it was like to be an only child, never know your mom, have a step mother
3. Grandpa - about my Grandma Maude
4. Uncle Henry - what it was like growing up in Ferndale

It's too late for those questions to be answered, but with 2Cuz it can be different from now on. I am going to gently probe and see what else is in there. So we'll continue our iffy excursions and maybe even venture out to the theater again... even if she does sleep through Act I. There's always intermission.


  1. You are very welcome. I'm so glad to have played a small part in opening up that amazing story to you.

    I know what you mean about our stories fading away. I don't know if it's because everyone's too busy or people are trained to look to TV and the movies for storytelling, or something else. But we have lost the art of storytelling. I know that the Native Americans are worried about this. Stories passed down from the elders was their way of maintaining their heritage. Now the youngsters in the tribe don't care anymore. It's sad.

  2. The youngsters are never interested until we gain a little wisdom with age. Usually, by then, the keepers of the grail are gone. I think it's the same with every generation, since the beginning of time.

  3. I'll have some questions for you when I'm up north next. :-)

  4. Sounds like you had a fun evening. How interesting that she was in Honolulu at that time. I bet she does have some very interesting stories. You will have to keep us updated as you find out more of her experiences there.

  5. Way to go, Janice! I love to dig in now that my pop is gone. It is so much fun to visualize the life our family members before us led.

  6. sounds like a great time..i LOVE your pug in that Halloween cute !!!!

    kary and teddy

  7. happy to see you today..cleo is so adorable

    kary and teddy


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