You'd think after the two previous California Adventures in the same day, that Downtown Dad and I would be face down, in the sand by now... but no! Truth be told, we hadn't even come within spittin' distance of any sand, let alone an ocean!
The truth is, we were moments away from experiencing, if not our biggest adventure yet, one I was most apprehensive about... We were about to meet up with some long lost friends and family! Not to bore you, but let me begin at the beginning... well maybe not that far back... how 'bout somewheres near the middle of the beginning...
Earlier this year I posted a picture on Facebook of my son (2nd from the left) in his portrayal of the shady "Uncle Ernie" in the Musical Tommy.
Though we'd seen snippets of rehearsals through the curtains as we hammered and painted sets, and over our shoulders as we flung hot-dish and bars at the hungry teenagers, when Jarrod stepped on stage at the first performance with his "mexistache" and chinstrap beardage, I gasped! DD saw the same thing I saw... he looked like my grandfather!
No wait, maybe he looked more like my grandfather's son, my uncle David...
hmmm, or maybe it was David's son Stan?
I know, Stan's son Craig?
Whichever one it was, I knew he was rockin' the Thomas family resemblance! I realized then that I missed my Thomas family. When we all still lived in Southern California, despite the sibling rivaly between my dad and his brother David, the Thomas clan used to get together more or less regularly for Thanksgivings and Christmases, telling stories, retelling family lore, and usually chatting non-stop well into the evening. That all brought to mind, the fact that I hadn't seen any of those people for ages and ages... OK, mostly because all of them were dead, save the last one, Craig, but still - I had visions of relatives dancing in my head during a high school rendition of a 70's rock opera... and I wasn't even taking any hallucinogens!
It got me wondering where they'd ended up....
Then, there was three weeks of putting on the show, and college visits, then graduation, and well, I just got plain distracted.
Until, one day when I was looking through an old binder of genealogy research. I pulled out an envelope I'd put aside years ago, that, to my surprise, I'd never opened. It contained a list of spouses, children and birthdates of my dad's siblings' children. I glanced through the 10 or so pages, which contained the names of the cousins and second cousins I'd grown up with. I was thrilled to see names of spouses and children that I had, up to that point, not known. Especially those of Kim, Craig, and the twins, Matt and Doug, the 4 Thomases that I was closest to growing up.
....OK wait... Let me jump back in time again, to the 60s, when I was a Bluebird. Don't tell me you don't know what Bluebird is... it's a junior Camp Fire Girl, kind of like what a Brownie is to a Girl Scout, only cooler.
We had so much fun back in the day. The 8 to 10 of us, who dressed up in our oh-so-red-white-and-blue uniforms, and wore them to school once a week, when we'd meet at the leader's house after school, where we'd pledge to do good, and always be friends, make crafts, and sing happy, yet vaguely Indian related songs.
OK, I said HAPPY, not GAY... just had to add that ....
The mother who was dedicated enough to take on this awesome leader responsibility was my classmate Janet's mom, Mrs. Paden. She not only knew how to do all of the crafts, but she played piano for the songs, made the treats most of the time, kept 8 to 10 little girls relatively in line for 2 hours, and somehow quelled our superiority, when we turned into a rabble spoiling to rip the brown beanies and spritely elves off of the rival Brownie pack, who met just down the street. And, she did this all while Janet's sister and two brothers carried on with their lives and activities under the same roof!
I was so happy when Janet brought her mom to the Time Capsule Opening earlier that day, it made me want to glue twigs to a tin pie pan and sing "Ah Woonie Coonie Cha Ah Woonie!"
OK.... now, back to the old binder of genealogy research with the names.... So, as I looked through the names I came to the 4 I'd grown up with and saw that Kim had married a guy named David Paden... Hmmmm, just like my Blue Bird Leader's son.... wouldn't it be funny if it turned out that after all these years I was related by marriage to them? I quick sent a message to my friend Janet on Facebook to confirm this notion!
Well tie me up and call me Shirley! As a matter of fact it WAS the same David! That sure puts a twist in the ole' family tree!
I was able to get in touch with Kim on Facebook, and she quickly started making arrangements for us to meet for our own little Thomas family reunion while I was in town. Both she and the twins still lived in town, but she never mentioned Craig... was he dead? I wondered...
As it turned out, one of the twins, Doug, was out of town, but lo and behold, Craig, who was not dead, just so happened to be in town! Serendipity!
Here we are with the proud leader cum mother-in-law in the back ground! Matt had to do double duty standing in for his absent twin.
The Thomases (and Downtown Dad) invaded the Paden house that night - the very same house the Bluebirds invaded weekly all those years ago! We talked over old times and retold old family lore, looked at pictures, and chatted non-stop well into the evening. Just like old times!
Over the years, I've learned that whoever the next generation is, what they most value, is not what we owned, but the stories and evidence of who we were, and of how we loved.
In the end, it's the family stories that are the true treasures.