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Prelude to a larger family affair? Richard Peña | Sat, May 25 2013 12:00 PM

 I think it is always a red letter day when one has a relative, or close friend drop in for a visit.

When two such persons come in at the same time I suppose we could call this a super red letter day or, at least, a bright red letter day. Such a phenomenon occurred at this household the other day when my Maryland daughter Coni and Suzanne Pena, a niece from Austin, Texas came in at about the same time.

Coni, of course, we see from time to time.  Although her home is some 3,000 miles away she— and husband Frank—make it a point to make periodic visits to our shores to check on the state of the old homestead.
Suzanne, however, is quite a bit different.  The last time I had seen her she was a small child.  She is the youngest daughter of my late brother, Raymond who died a couple of months ago.

I think that I was the first one of the clan to break the Texas mold.

I left San Antonio at a rather early age and never went back to live.   My navy career took us to various places and, on retiring, we opted to settle here in Southern California. We, however, probably have adhered to the old statement, “once a Texan, always a Texan”, and, over the years this family has made a few of those mandatory but pleasant trips back to the place of my birth.

It was on some of these returning trips, family reunions I suppose we would call them, that I got to know Suzanne and some of the others. She, and daughter Coni, were two of the youngest of the 19 cousins  who gathered in my parents’ backyard, among doting parents, and played and exchanged newsy bits and, of course, barbecued.

Our journeys back to the homestead were signals for such activities, activities that, I suppose, are the hallmark for most families.

Suzanne’s visit to our home the other day was from Austin, it is true, but it was by way of Los Angeles.  She had been there for a week or so helping her daughter, Steele Rae, in her graduation from the University of Southern California.

Now how a native Texan, like me, can become a Southern Californian by way of the U.S. Navy is reasonable and understandable. But how a native Texan like Steele Rae can become a USC Trojan is something else.  When I get to meet Steele Rae in person I will be able to find out. Until then our congratulations are out to her.

In our conversations the other day Suzanne had mentioned that one of the cousins had recently suggested to her that there should be a reunion.

She must have implied that the entire family should gather in one place and do whatever it is that people do on such occasions.

I wondered about that but then had second thoughts.  As the oldest member of the clan I suppose the mantle of leadership would fall on me. I would be the leader, so to speak, the patriarch. They would probably place me on a makeshift throne, give me a miter and a crook, and expect wise sayings from me.  Pretentious, one would ask? They would be right.

On a more serious note we must be positive about reuniting with relatives from a time past.  I think it is not only a healthy gesture but a joyous one.

There is nothing like reminiscing about pleasant memories of the past. Suzanne will be returning to Austin. But it is our hope that she will someday return to our shores.

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