Quotidian Update 71.3.7.v — Phone Conversation with My Cousin

Zürich from a tower of the Grossmunster

“Well sweetie, we have osteoarthritis everywhere in our body. It’s in our genes.”

Suddenly it all made sense, the pain and fatigue I felt walking with Teddy in the Big Empty on Sunday evening.

“Do you find it’s worse when the weather changes?”

“I think so. The weather was changing.”

Since my cousin’s daughter found me on Facebook a month ago, I have had family. I already had my family that I put together on my own, but now I the other kind of family with shared childhood memories and relatives. I spent an hour on the phone with my cousin yesterday. It was kind of miraculous. I don’t know when we’ll be able to see each other, but this is pretty awesome as it is.

She had just finished reading Across the World on the Wings of the Wind, the whole mammoth trilogy of Savior, The Brothers Path and The Price compiled in one book. She had so much to say about it. The best thing — to me — was that she found Savior, the first book, too short. She’d wanted more. “I loved it. That book grounds everything, the family, there in the castle, all of it.”

Of course it’s HER family as well as mine.

“I didn’t know we were Swiss. I thought we were Scots/Irish.”

“Mostly. We’re mostly Scots/Irish. But yeah. Swiss too.”

“I had no idea.”

“No one did, well my mom thought Grandma was Pennsylvania Dutch, but I don’t think she knew what that meant.”

“Why did she think that?”

“Grandma has a few strange turns of phrase.” My grandma said a few every day sentences in German syntax, like “Put on the table the bowl.” I don’t know if my mom had read a novel or studied or what but she’d heard those and developed a theory. When it comes to it, I’m not sure we know our parents all that well.

“I loved your books,” said my cousin.

I was a little sorry she’d bought the books because I was going to send them to her. I just don’t have them all and Amazon isn’t rushing to fill random book orders from authors who don’t make them any money.

We gossiped about family, talked out the changes in the 20 year interval since we last saw each other, and talked about dogs. She has always had dogs and right now has Mini-Aussie puppies.

Today four years ago I was in Zürich. I don’t know if I will ever go back, but I hope so. Whatever small part of my DNA or ancestry or whatever it ultimately represents, it occupies a large part of my heart. I will always wonder (though I wrote about it) how my ancestors felt leaving. Relieved, I guess, scared, but I can’t believe some of them wished they had not had to go.

Nothing really going on which, given the times in which we live, is OK by me.

Featured photo by Lois Maxwell


15 thoughts on “Quotidian Update 71.3.7.v — Phone Conversation with My Cousin

  1. What a wonderful surprise that was. It took me back 50 years to when I lived and worked in Zürich, my first impressions of life in Switzerland. It is a lovely town although in the past 50 years it has changed: new buildings, old buildings removed as in most places.

    • I really regret that we didn’t set a meeting place 4 years ago more specific than “Zürich Bahnhof.” It would have been so easy to say, “In front of the Bahnhof facing the Landesmuseum.”

  2. There is something extra special about “long lost” (or 20 years since…) family. How nice you connected again – especially now. I keep hoping one will turn up from ancestry.com. 🙂

  3. My mother had connected with lots of distant (6th – 9th cousin) relatives. When she was doing her genealogical research. She is still in contact with them but many are as old or older than she at 88 years. She even met her German relatives when she went to Germany to a little town to check the church registry. Seems they were still on the same farm in the same town! It is a small world after all.

  4. My day is coming to buy your books. Rickety bones in my family and me~and are Irish/Scots. What a pleasure it must have been to talk for an hour. Simply heaven. And to visit Zurich….I’d love that. I bet its strange to think of going back in these new “times”.

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