I know our neighbors think we must be crazy.
But the draw of the huge shade in our front yard from our estimated 70-year-old oak tree is too magnetic. It is not uncommon to have company over and sit outside on our front porch area on our benches or in lawn chairs. And of course we always have a cold ice chest and music playing. Evidence of all this happened this past Easter Saturday morning.
It goes back to the mid-1960s and what my dad, Larry, said to me one hot summer day at our home in southeast Bakersfield. Our doughboy pool always seemed filled to capacity with our neighborhood friends but mostly with my brothers and sisters and cousins.
I know I have shared this cousin story with you before but I think it deserves repeating.
I noticed after a hard day at work in the 1960s, my dad’s usual position was in his lawn chair facing the doughboy pool. He would sit there with a slight smile and small metal ice chest perfect for a six-pack of his favorite adult cold beverage. He quietly watched everyone having fun. His voice rose occasionally to remind everyone to clean their feet in the tub of water before they jumped back in. And when the rough and tumble got to be too rough and tumble, he gently remind us to, “Settle down before someone gets hurt.”
I asked him one day why he never got into the pool.
My dad said, “I enjoy seeing cousins play together.”
At the time, his answer seemed odd to me. It was at best a curious response my brain unknowing filed away for a future unknown but important reference.
The most recent example is this last Easter Saturday. During the Easter season, my wife, Susie, would make her legendary sugar cookies. One year she made 97 dozen. She not only made them but put all 97 dozen in decorative Easter baskets. Cancer took Susie away from us several years ago. My children and I miss her beyond measure.
To help us through the holidays, my adult daughter Nikki usually plans a family event to help us honor Susie’s memory and to help us make it through the day. This past Easter Saturday was that day.
It started with her sister Brenna helping wherever she could, her brother Aaron helping with set-up, Carlos and Carlios getting chairs, tables and music for what was to be a quiet egg decorating morning in our front yard. We are grateful that all their invited cousins showed up with their children.
In total, we had 16 family members…oh…and the ice cream man…enjoying the family fun.
Breakfast started at 9 a.m. so everyone who had plans that Saturday to leave by noon for other family events could do so.
To protect the innocent, I won’t go into all the details, but we had a full-scale Saturday morning Easter egg decorating dance-a-thon, with great music, beverages for the children and special ones for the adult children.
Those planning to leave at noon never happened.
The impromptu party was going full-blast when the ice cream man and his truck slowed to see what the heck was happening in our front yard. As he slowed, Brenna left the full-on dance circle and stopped the ice cream man by dancing in the street in front of his truck. And it was all safe, no other cars coming in either direction.
He stopped and leaned out his window and started dancing with all the adults and children.
That’s when my dad’s voice spoke to me, “I enjoy seeing cousins play together.”
Dad, I know Susie was watching from above and my prayer is that you and all who have gone before us were with you.
It was an emotional Saturday morning for me as I know it was for all my children. And it was more than decorating Easter eggs. It was our family pulling together to help us when needed most.
Dad, I enjoy seeing cousins play together, too.