A 50th Anniversary Note to my West Coast Fam

I wrote this to for my Aunt Sherry and Uncle Bruce at the request of my cousin, Tammy.  Thought it would be fun to share publicly. Enjoy.

Memories of the West Coast Family:
Uncle Bruce, Aunt Sherry, Timmy, and Tammy

As remembered by Colleen Ann Guest, 06/10/2013

I’m perhaps either the laziest person on earth or the biggest procrastinator ever! I don’t put things off until the last possible minute because I don’t care about the thing I should be doing, in fact it’s usually just the opposite. Sometimes a task is daunting to me because I do care so much about how it turns out. So rather than do the “right” thing and get a good start on it so that I’ll have plenty of time to revamp and redirect if I need to adjust the direction it’s going, I get paralyzed and think to myself that I’ve got TONS of time so I don’t need to commit to this just yet. Well, I’ve been burned by my own inadequacy in recognizing the passage of time once again.

Much to my chagrin, my dear cousin; your THOUGHTFUL, CARING, PUNCTUAL daughter; called me the other day and cornered me about my lack of response to her ever so gentle request for a simple thing like a note for your scrapbook – and the request came with plenty of time to provide a FABULOUS response. I’m a loser. THIS is why I don’t plan parties for people. I’ll be late to my own funeral!

I wish I had lots of funny, witty stories about you guys. I have lots of second hand ones from my folks, and I’m sure there might be some that you would be just as glad for me not to repeat. But those are THEIR memories. I have my own too, but given the distance between us they aren’t as first person as theirs. So here are some of my rambling memories; the things that really stick with me. And perhaps, just perhaps, waiting until the last minute has its advantages.  The things that come to mind quickly are the ones that have the deepest impressions.

When I was little and my birthday would roll around, my mom would make a nice effort to have a birthday party for me. With so many aunts and uncles (and cousins – not as many then as what I have now though, but still a lot) the parties always involved tons of family. Most of the family lived nearby and the parties were pretty large and happening. But my mom and Grandma Eaton were always very careful to point out that Uncle Bruce and Aunt Sherry couldn’t be here and that I was to take special note of their cards and gifts.  They always showed me your pictures and told me stories about you. I felt like I knew you even though we hadn’t met. And I don’t know if you ever knew it but I used to count how many cat or kitten cards I would get. I knew it was going to be a GREAT year if all my cards had a feline on the cover! There were times you sent me one of those treasured cards and I just KNEW that you loved me and “knew” me! To this day there are two people (besides my mom) that can be counted on to NEVER miss my birthday with a card – Aunt Sherry and my dad’s sister Aunt Linda. So for all the years you tirelessly sent cards with no apparent thanks, it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated! I tear up when I get your cards!! THANK YOU!!

Another strong memory is of time I spent at Grandma and Grandpa Eaton’s house. They kept your pictures on the wall over Grandma’s chair. You know the place – the wall to the right of the archway to the dining room if you are standing in the living room. I used to gaze at those pictures and imagine what kind of people you were and wondered if you thought of me at the same time I was thinking of you. Sometimes Grandma would catch me looking at the pictures and she would take them off the wall so I could look more closely. And then she would tell me stories about Uncle Bruce as a child. Gosh I wish I could recall some of those! And then there were all those AMAZING sugar Easter eggs with the little scenes on the inside that Aunt Sherry made. I LOVED those!! I used to beg Grandma to bring them out of the cupboard and show me up close. (It was difficult to really see the scenes on the inside from through the glass.) She would gladly oblige and she handled them so gently and with such care. She used to tell me that I had to be VERY CAREFUL – they were delicate works of art and couldn’t be replaced. She just adored those and all the other artfully created things that Aunt Sherry made (I don’t want to say “crafty” – that cheapens them. The things you made were ART!)

And then there were all the times Grandma and Grandpa would go to California to spend time with you guys. They would come back FULL of stories and pictures about all their adventures. We would sit around the dining room table with the pictures all over and they would go through them one by one and tell us so many things about each image in enormous detail. I could see so much more than what the picture alone held. I yearned badly to visit Disneyland and the national parks! I would dream about it and imagine what it must be like in real life. They made everything they did with you guys sound like the grandest adventures and everything there was bigger than life! It made things seem so “usual” back here. I was actually a bit jealous of Timmy and Tammy. Even though I had the grandparents all to my own all the time, it just seemed like their time in Cali with you guys overshadowed anything they ever did with us. I know that’s not true at all, but to my little girl self it was hard not to make comparisons. I knew it was wrong to feel those things, and I was ashamed to admit it so I never said anything – I didn’t want to be a brat – that would have hurt my feelings if anyone thought ill of me for feeling that way. They got so much enjoyment about recounting their adventures that I wanted to hear everything in spite of my own jealousy. Their faces glowed with such love and pride when they talked about Timmy and Tammy and they always looked so refreshed and relaxed when they came home.  I lived vicariously though those vacations!

But FINALLY, I got my wish – I got to meet you all! It wasn’t in Cali like I’d hoped, but I was THRILLED to have you all back home on my turf in the summer of 1977. I thought my other uncles were tall men, but Uncle Bruce was a true GIANT! I was tickled beyond belief that he picked on me just like Uncle Roger, Uncle Gary, and Uncle Alan!! He WAS one of us! And then I got to get a real hug from Aunt Sherry! Not just a card, but a real life hug! And those things cemented that you both were everything I imagined you to be! And for the first time I got to play with my west coast cousins. I was worried they would think we weren’t good enough and that NY wouldn’t ever be as awesome as California. But I was wrong. They loved it here as much as I felt I would love it there. I fell in LOVE with Timmy and Tammy! I remember showing off my horses to them and how Tammy especially was smitten with them. We spent a lot of time in the barn together and she was like a little sponge – asking questions about EVERYTHING and soaking it all in. She was eager to know all about the horses. She was a girl after my own heart. And still is!

So there it is. My fondest memories are the oldest ones. And those are the ones that come to the surface in a hurry. When I think of all of you, I think of those specific things before I start reminiscing about other times in more recent years or before I recall the many stories my mom and dad tell about you.  Now how much of this is relevant to your anniversary is questionable but they’re the things that make me smile when I think of you. I love you both so very much!! I’m so blessed the Lord brought you together so I could be related to some of the most awesome people in the whole world!

With love and tears (I just read this out loud to Neel so I could proof it and now I’m crying!),
Colleen

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