I had a call from my dear Aunt Joyce over the weekend. She told me that she will not be visiting me in February as planned. She has a bad back that may require surgery. She is hoping that things will improve enough for her to make the trip across the Atlantic sometime but in the meantime I am so bummed! I love my Aunt Joyce. She's a retired maternity nurse and although there are reports of her being formidable on the hospital wards, I have only ever known a kind, loving and warm woman. She was one of the first people from whom I asked for recipes. The pumpkin bars recipe is originally from Aunt Joyce. She was married to my dad's brother Jim who has sadly passed away. Uncle Jim and Aunt Joyce had three boys, Mike Paul and Steve (can be said as one word). We saw them more than any other cousins we have and we have a LOT of cousins.
A very early photo taken by Aunt Joyce herself of some of some rotten kids: Tom in the front being held up by my mother because he can't walk yet, Paul in a red jacket, my sister Katie in an adorable sailor dress. Sally in a white sweater looking off to the side, Mike looking down at something and me in the back with really great blue glasses. (Steve hasn't been born yet)
Years ago, when we lived in Bismarck, North Dakota we lived in a house in town for a short time. I can't remember the address because I was five when we left. I do remember that when we lived there, two really nice young nurses lived in the apartment above us. My Uncle Jim took a shine to one of the nurses (the pretty dark haired one) and started visiting us much more often. In time that pretty nurse became my Aunt Joyce.
So, being down that Aunt Joyce won't be visiting I was casually flipping through my tattered address book. I noticed that a while ago I wrote in my cousin Mike's address and phone number. Mike is Aunt Joyce's eldest. We saw these cousins more than any other family group. I think this may have been due to the fact that our fathers were such close brothers. There is barely a summer memory that doesn't have a chapter including that family.
My fondest memory of those cousins is merely 15 years or so ago at our wedding. Uncle Jim and Aunt Joyce had come down from Clear Lake, Iowa and Mike and his new wife Patrice, Paul and Steve were all there too. Later on in the evening we were in the bar of the Holiday Inn in the middle of Iowa City and Mike, Paul and Steve (can be said as one word) were singing karaoke. They did a version of Bad Bad Leroy Brown that had Henry and I wetting ourselves with laughter.
I decided to call Mike. I don't think I've spoken to him in years. I know that if I get a phone call from a cousin I haven't seen in a long time, I immediately assume that there is going to be bad news. It is probably a good idea to phone my cousins from time to time. This way if something awful happens and I have to ring them to tell them bad news, it won't be so odd that I'm calling.
It was great to speak to Mike and get caught up. I gave him my e-mail and blog addresses. I hope he passes them on to Paul and Steve. I also hope that Mike turns into one of my regular readers and will start to leave a comment. It's okay if you don't leave a comment Mike, just stay in touch!