The Amend Corner

A noisy reunion

Posted 7/30/19

Well, summer is approximately half over now, and my wife and I have already experienced the high point of the season — the biennial reunion of the cousins.

Every two years, our son’s …

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The Amend Corner

A noisy reunion


Well, summer is approximately half over now, and my wife and I have already experienced the high point of the season — the biennial reunion of the cousins.

Every two years, our son’s family returns to the U.S. from whatever disadvantaged country they have been living in for an extended vacation. Whenever that happens, our Minnesota daughter arranges to bring her two kids to Powell so they can reconnect with the African duo for a week or more of cousin communion.

This year, the Minnesota kids arrived a few days early. Their dad came along to help with driving, but couldn’t stay and he flew home to work, giving us a few days of fun with his kids. A few days later, our African family arrived, and the four kids immediately became a unit, as though they had just stopped playing together the night before.

This cohesion is remarkable, considering that the two girls are on the brink of teen-agerhood, and the two boys are just the age when little brothers like to antagonize their older siblings. There wasn’t any evidence of that, though, as the four played “Predator” (their version of tag) while utilizing all of Washington Park, or became feral cats in our back yard, finding hiding places to hide and each defending his or her territory. 

Such games based on imagination were often abandoned, though, in favor of whacking a badminton birdie or a ball back and forth over a net or setting up a croquet court — although I don’t remember ever seeing them actually play croquet. At some point, an invisible signal would bring whatever game they were playing to an end, and the four would be found sitting quietly in the living room — each of them fully engaged in reading a book.

One whole morning was spent riding bicycles. For the Minnesota kids, it was a new experience, but the African pair were quite accomplished at riding. Linnaea, the oldest of the four, was particularly drawn to the freedom a bicycle gives to a pre-teen child and insisted on taking a ride downtown. That’s something she could never do during their time in Niger, and she probably won’t have a chance to do in their next home, Ethiopia.

One day we all traveled to Cody, and after a Thai lunch, visited the Cody Escape Room. There we were locked in a room and given an hour to escape. The whole group, kids, parents and grandparents pitched in to solve the series of problems that would lead to freedom. We found the last key and escaped with less than a minute to spare, thanks to our son’s ability to crack a secret message. After that, we rewarded ourselves by stopping for ice cream.

The presence of our kids and grandkids drew others to our house. My two brothers arrived from Casper and Gillette to visit for an afternoon; one brother’s visit doubled the number of kids in the mix by bringing along his daughter and her four boys. They were all younger than our grandkids, but the older kids were quick to make friends with the younger ones. The resulting play seemed to revolve around the croquet balls, but the only rule seemed to be letting the little kids do as they pleased — which for one of the littlest boys meant carrying the green croquet ball wherever he went.

The week’s activities were often noisy, but that’s not unusual when my family is involved. We all talk a lot and can be quite boisterous at times, and our grandchildren have inherited that legacy. So any family get-together is likely to be loud. The outdoor play was marked by good-natured shouting, and so were games played around the dining room table, but none of the noise was made in anger.

All too soon, our son-in-law arrived to help drive the Minnesota kids home. We said goodbye to them at the Ranger Creek area above Shell Canyon, and for the next few days, our African grandkids had us all to themselves before they left for Kentucky, where their other grandparents live. Soon they will be off to Ethiopia — their mother’s next station — and while our Minnesota family is close enough for more frequent visits, the African family is not likely to be back for two long years. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the quiet, but I’ll miss the noise and all the activity of the last three weeks.

I’m already looking forward to the next cousin reunion.

The Amend Corner