“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity…”*
With the onset of nice weather, Al went to his favorite bike shop to have his bicycle repaired but was informed the necessary part wasn’t available. Instead of receiving help, he was given the business cards of others to contact.
“Is this the bike shop that your cousin owns?” he asked when he got back home, showing me one of the cards.
“Well, that’s his last name… must be it!” We knew ta relative of mine, actually a second cousin, had a bike shop in one of the suburbs of Detroit, but where?
After talking to a sales representative on the phone, Al found out they could help him and decided to go to that shop.
“Be sure to ask for Patrick, the owner, and tell him who you are. Find out how his mother is, OK?”
Al and I had been to dinner with Patrick’s parents years ago on a visit to Michigan from California. He was there too along with the rest of the family, but I doubted he remembered us. While Al was gone, the phone rang — from the same bike shop. When I picked up the receiver, a booming voice said,
“Hello, Judy Lowery. This is your cousin, Patrick. I’m glad you didn’t think I was trying to sell you something and hang up on me!”
Al was standing by and had given him our number. Patrick sounded just like his mom: enthusiastic, genuine and something of a character. After our initial greeting, I blurted out, “Patrick, how is your mother?”
Patrick was the youngest son of three, named after his mom, Pat, who was my dad’s cousin. We had been out to visit her a few times since our move to Michigan. Pat was the one who told us about her son, now a bike shop owner, and had urged us to go see him. We had forgotten all about that until Al’s dilemma with his bike.
Pat grew up in the small railroad town of Mccloud, nestled at the foot of Mount Shasta in northern California. When I was about 10 years old, our family drove from our home in Bakersfield to visit her mother and father. By that time, Pat and her husband were living in Plymouth, Mich.
When we arrived at their home in Mccloud, we were greeted by a smiling, bespectacled woman with gray hair, my great aunt Winnie. “Aunt Winnie,” as my dad called her and her husband, “Uncle Curly,” lived in a small home that was one of row of houses owned by the railroad.
At the time of their marriage in 1920, Curly worked as a telephone repairman and Winnie played “horse galloping music” on the piano for the silent movies at the Mccloud theater. Later Curly became the engineer on a freight train that carried lumber on a route from Mccloud to Redding.
Winnie was always full of fun and the love of adventure. On that same trip, Aunt Winnie, my brother and I were sitting in the back seat of the car and my mom and little sister were in the front, as dad drove us home from an outing in the woods.
Suddenly Aunt Winnie began jumping up and down on the seat of the car. “There’s a bee in my blouse!” she screamed, while dad pulled over to the side of the narrow road.
Unsympathetic to her predicament, my brother and I laughed hysterically as Aunt Winnie proceeded to unbutton her blouse and wave it in the air. It was a good thing she wasn’t allergic to bee stings.
When she moved to Michigan to be closer to daughter Pat, we started corresponding regularly. Winnie loved hearing about our backpacking adventures and called us “the world travelers.”
“But remember,” she’d say, “I was the first outdoor woman!”
We shared a close bond during the years before her death in 1995. After our move to Michigan a few years ago, it was a blessing to reconnect with Pat and her family. Sad to think of Pat’s passing now too.
When one of my great nieces recently began texting me every day, it seemed like I was now wearing Aunt Winnie’s shoes! What a joy to be part of a family chain, with the opportunity to not only pass along family stories, values and traditions but to share a rich heritage of faith. Praise the Lord for families!
*Psalm 133:1 NIV