Thursday, April 8, 2010


When I got back to the house, Lawrence was there with Maya, and some older, well-traveled, somewhat distant cousins I liked had dropped by on their way to somewhere. Not surprising that relatives I never see would appear. Everyone but me is always dealing with near or distant family in this family I believed I had long ago escaped.

Cousin Carolyn, buxom and vigorous, with whom I think my father had been in love many years back, said just about the most thrilling thing that had happened to her was getting on an airplane in Tokyo some years ago and reading a really funny in-flight magazine article about finding the perfect place write – and then realizing this great article was by her Cousin Fred.

They traveled a lot, Carolyn and her husband Thor who has been – “of all things,” family members said – Carolyn’s ski instructor when she had been on vacation in 1940s Norway. He like her was vigorous and seemed more so as they aged. When they met in Norway she had turned forty and was apparently destined to remain a single career woman. She had revived the fortunes of one branch of the family by making money as an importer of Belgian wool, for which the Belgian government gave her a medal. She so clearly was a needed single person that when she was 40 and stepped out of character it took them time to recover.

“It was one of the best things that ever happened to me, seeing Fred’s piece,” Carolyn was saying again. And Lawrence and his wife and his mother changed the subject fast, and when Carolyn had gone made fun of this older cousin for saying that seeing my piece was so great. Then they asked me to spend time picking up Lawrence’s stepson from camp near far-off Burlington and driving him to Littleton – which sounded like the first of many tasks for which they could use me.

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