I grew up knowing most of my extended family on my mom’s side. And I am talking extended family . . . like 4th and 5th cousins extended. Growing up we always went to family reunions and annually gathered at my great-aunt Margie’s for Memorial Day lunch after placing flowers on the graves of extended family in Arnold, Nebraska.
My husband has always marveled at the interconnectedness of my family. Even in Phoenix, we had the blessing of getting to know my mom’s cousin (so my second cousin) Doris really well. In fact, on most family vacations we would visit some cousin or relative of my mom. My parents even let me spend whole weeks up in Arnold, Nebraska, living the farm life with April and Briana, my 4th cousins (I think).
But one of the most surprising, but special relationships I formed was with Lana Stickney, my mom’s sister-in-law’s sister-in-law. Yep. Extended family. Family of family is family. 😉
We meet at my cousin’s confirmation and were fast friends. And since she lived in the same town as my grandparents, we had the opportunity to see her at graduation parties and other occasions as well. Lana took an interest in me when I was in elementary school. I was reserved and considered by most to be shy. But her outgoing, bubbly personality cracked me open like a clam. And she liked what she found inside.
From our first meeting on, she became my pen pal. We would always take a picture together that she would then send it to me in a card with a kind note. Her husband was an English teacher, and they were excited to learn of my love of books.
We still correspond a couple times a year. Just this last year she sent a cute blanket and nice copy of Mother Goose Nursery rhymes for Rebekah. She made me a beautiful quilt for my high school graduation and then a quilted table runner and hot pads, embroidered with our wedding date when Mitch and I got married.
I mean, really, she is one of the most thoughtful people I know. While I was digging through totes of my childhood books at my parents’ house last week, I came across another special gift from her:
She was right, I loved Prairie Songs. Growing up in Nebraska, I was fascinated by the lives and stories of those who braved the unbroken prairie, embraced its challenges, and called it home. I’ve always loved literature with a strong sense of place and fascinating characters.
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