Pop and Dana had a rapprochement of sorts when I was in my twenties and early thirties. Dana had divorced. I sometimes found him at Mom and Pop's house when I came to visit, and I have pleasant enough memories of our talks. This ended suddenly over dinner one night. Kendrick and Dana never spoke or saw each other again. When Pop was dying, someone asked him if he hoped for an afterlife. His reply: "Oh gawd no! That would mean I would have to see my brother."
So. Why am I telling you this?
Just yesterday, I received an email from a high school reunion committee. No, not mine. They were looking for my cousin, Dana's daughter. It has been forty years, so of course they put out a dragnet on everyone. An amazingly short period of time, forty years turns out to be. My family name is not all that common, and I have a fairly large web presence, so I ended up the recipient of a Do you know this person? letter. Yes, I do.
I think she was fifteen the last time I saw her. It was one of those unaccountable visits we had come to expect in their unexpectedness. We belonged to a golf course nearby in those days, and I took her golfing on a summer evening. I was never good at the game, but I enjoyed the walk around the course, especially on summer evenings in Fresno, which are glorious. I don't think she had ever even picked up a club before. I have a picture of her in my mind, standing on the sixth tee, wearing a red and white spring dress and flip-flops. She was a pretty girl in an unusual way, with long red-blond hair, a legacy of my father's mother's Danishness. She had just hit a pretty good shot. I think that was the only time I ever saw her smile.
I had to tell her high school friends that my cousin was killed in a traffic accident in 1984: hit by a truck while riding her bicycle at night. She was unmarried and had no children. She was 27.
The question comes: why does this matter to me? I did not know her. I have good reason to guess that our outlooks had little or nothing in common. And she died suddenly, leaving nothing behind, far from me and three decades distant.
I also have to think of my own brother, whom I do not like, with whom I do not speak. Some stories are very old.
I miss her. I miss him. How does that work?
Hail Ardis, Daughter of Dana, House of Abell!