But him? HE was living in Germany, in a place that I can't even pronounce without sounding like I'm trying out for a part in a bad stage production of The Sound of Music.
So, who was lost?
Wasn't me, anyway.
So, the story: There's this guy, living in a town we'll call....Somewhereachtungbaby, Germany. S-town, for short. He's a US citizen, a military officer and a nice guy, from a nice family. His dad back in Idaho calls him up and tells him he ought to get in contact with some woman living in France.
His dad says "No. Really! Listen! This is a REAL relative. Her father is my first cousin."
Then he reassured his son that he'd actually met the woman, as well as her husband and her numerous offspring and they all seemed like normal, people. Nice, maybe even.
So the nice and dutiful son sent an email to the "real" French relative (that would be me).
What happened next?
Well, the nice guy drove all the way over from S-town with his youngest child and came to spend a couple of days in the Haute Savoie with us. It was a short visit, but a good one. His precocious blonde daughter fit right in with our twins and they created a powerful, triplet-like mass. The weekend was theirs, really.
And Mike, the cousin from Germany? He thought my huge stash of New Scientist was cool (rather than sad and boring) and he started reading them asap. In other words: smart and kind of geeky . And I mean that as the highest praise.
It was interesting talking over "old times" with him. We are about the same age and knew many of the same places and people in our childhood, but seldom met. He was raised elsewhere, but like me, spent long summers out in central Nebraska with the family. He'd stay out on The Farm with his grandparents.
Here's his grandfather, who I knew as my "Uncle Bill". He was my paternal grandfather's only sibling:
Here's my grandmother and my grandfather. I don't have a picture of the two brothers together...
Mike said he liked being around my grandpa and loved the endless stories he would tell if you asked him (and even if you didn't.)
And I certainly loved going over to his grandparent's farm for the day. My grandmother and I would work in the garden, then I'd wander off to chase the cats around in the barn. I'd even occasionally get to ride a horse. "My" horse was Sugarfoot.
Mike would drive the tractor, ride Tinkerbell, drink icy water out of the irrigation hoses... all stuff I never did.
Aunt Marie and Uncle Bill would talk about him whenever I visited, but for some reason, he was never there...
All these years later we finally really connected. Same place at the same time. It's pretty funny that we had to go halfway around the world to do it...