It sounded like a good idea when my mouth suddenly opened up and shared it with Cousin Modellen. She was somewhat skeptical. Anything that bespoke of any unusual amount of effort never did appeal much to her.
“A cousin reunion?” she whined in that high pitched nasally way only she can do. “What in the world for?”
She would take some convincing to get on board for this whing-ding I had in mind.
“Why Modie-Ellen Baxter, we have tons of kin we’ve never even met.“
Our Grandma Amelia had ten children, and each of them had at least four apiece, which gives you forty of us first cousins right there. Some of those are starting to sow sprouts left and right, which produces all kinds of seconds and once removed.
She chewed on the notion for a few minutes, along with another piece of my homemade pecan pie and two more cups of coffee. “Well,” she conceded, full of sugar and caffeine, “It might be kind of fun at that. I’ll ask Sweet Willy what he thinks.”
Modie was recently married to a widower who is quite a bit longer in the tooth than she. To put it bluntly, he is about the oldest fellow I’ve ever met. There is no doubt his tax bracket is light years past her IQ, but she babies him to pieces and he lets her have whatever she wants. So far, the only thing she’s asked for is a fully restored, yellow1956 Thunderbird Coupe. That girl definitely has a mind of her own--such as it is. She went home to ponder some more on the cousin party. The next morning, my phone rang.
“Maggie, something’s wrong with Sweet Willie.” Her voice was at a higher decibel than usual.
“Calm down, Modellen, and take a deep breath. What do you mean wrong?”
“Uh…Uh, I don’t think he’s breathing.”
Now I was getting irritated with her lack of focus. “Well…is he, or isn’t he?”
She laid the phone down and padded across the room. I could hear the flip flapping of her slippers on the hardwood floor. She was back in seconds.
“Do you mean he is or is not?”
I sure hoped all my cousins weren’t this dense. I could hardly keep from raising my voice, which wasn’t hard to do through gritted teeth.
“Modie-Ellen, let me put it this way. Is there a possibility your husband is deceased?”
“Wait a second,” she mumbled. I could hear her return trip to check. She didn’t bother to come back to speak into the receiver. She just wailed, “What’ll I do?”
I grabbed my cell phone and called 9-1-1; then took off to her place. I arrived in time to see ambulance tail lights disappear down the long driveway. Modie sat on the fancy steps and leaned against one of those big stone lions that rich people tend to favor as outdoor decor. She whispered, “He was really quite old, you know.”
“Come on, Cuz,” I offered, feeling great compassion for her at that moment,” I’ll make us some tea.” She followed like a lost puppy.
After a few sips of Earl Grey, she said she needed to lie down, so she did, and I took care of everything else…for the next month. She perked up a little when she learned Mr. Sweet Willie had left her more than 50 million dollars.
“Hey Maggie,” she chirped one day between bites of dark chocolate truffles, “What do you say we do that cousin reunion thing now? I can finance it. We should have about two-hundred in all, counting spouses and kids. I’m going to run a little ad to find everybody.”
Falling into rich clover didn’t seem to improve Modie-Ellen’s brain one bit. She had to hire a full time assistant to process all the responses to her foolish announcement in the paper. Last count, there were 2,547 cousins looking forward to the private cruise she had planned.
This simple reunion has gotten pretty complicated, but it keeps her busy. Grammie-Am, the common denominator in our relative debacle, would be proud to know Modellen has learned that blood is thicker than water, but money is thicker than blood, and produces a whole lot more progeny than a grandmother could ever imagine.
Modie says she will insist all candidates in the cousin-hood submit to a DNA test. My rich and surprisingly not-so-ignorant kin is certainly one in a million. Make that 50 million.
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