Monday, February 24, 2014

What I Learned from My 3rd Cousins Over President's Day Weekend

We were all fast walkers.

Maybe it was because we wanted the most out of our 3 short days together in paradise.

Seven cousins had met for the first time to spend a long President's Day weekend in a century old house rented from the  Colonial Dames of America in St Augustine, America's oldest city. How appropriate. Not the oldest part, but the historical part.

 I called it my Downton Abbey Smith/Crompton Cousin Reunion.

Three of the relatives who had narrowly escaped winter storm Pax to make the flight from Pennsylvania and Connecticut certainly needed every drop of the sunshine state they could absorb.

Fairly shoveling their way to the airport, they now enjoyed the clarion blue skies and 65 degree weather.

Three of us were from Florida and came by car or train. One flew from the Bahamas.

All but one of us abandoned our husbands on Valentine's Day to make the trip.         Oh, well!

Though we were fast walkers, we also lingered when it was time to. Breakfast, lunch and after dinner teas were chock full of conversation about our ancestors, relational connections and family stories.


                                                   after story

                                                                                                            after story.

There is so much to say about our adventures and talks. My favorite being the spontaneous recitations of an A. A. Milne poem, The Owl and the Pussy Cat led by Gwennie and Wynken, Blynken and Nod spoken by Carrie and I around the dining table.

But I will limit it to a few things that I learned about each of my six 3rd cousins. Our great-grandfathers were brothers - Harry Worcester Smith and Frank Bulkeley Smith.

Here are some snippets gathered from my new-found cousins:

Carrie Crompton

Carrie: One should eat cereal first thing and then read the NY Times on their ipad mini to start the day. Sunshine should never be squandered.

Afternoon naps are necessary after touring the Flagler Inn.

Her books she authored on the Cromptons and Smiths are a family treasure. You can check them out here:

Gwennie: Dessert is important and so are patio heaters when dining alfresco. (Why couldn't that waiter get the flame to stay on??)

Please don't take a photo of her in her nightgown! Sorry, I thought it was a dress! :/

One should be wary of the size of chicken breasts. Truly. Their proportions are increasing at a disturbing rate. After offering a bad joke about chickens and breast implants, I realized she was right. They are much larger than the pieces we were offered as children. Although, I've always been a 'wing' girl myself.

It's good to plan your day and stick by the plan.

She agrees the antique chair in the Flagler dining hall stuffed with horsehair tests out to be much better than the newer version.

Abigail Scholl (Abu)

Abu (Abigail): Her snoring never bothered me. But if it had, we were the perfect partners to sleep in downstairs rooms together. Her with a snore and I with a bad ear; all I had to do was sleep on my good ear and we were both happily dreaming.

Love her Abu-isms, especially

"Too many birthdays!" Or was that Hasty when she was talking about 'floaters' and 'flashes' in her peripheral vision?
At any rate, we could all relate and repeated the phrase,


Hasty (Nancy Wendell), Abu and Carrie - Gwen on cellphone.

Pachi (Patience):  (Below) She has mastered the art of story-telling that takes a multitude of bunny trails and divergent paths, but if you have the Patience to listen, (pun intended) and smell the flowers along the way, you will have learned the point of her story and so much more.

Thank you Patience for organizing this wonderful gathering!

Prudi and Nancy(Hasty). Cousins in Stripes.

Prudi (Prudence):  Her husband, Jon was one brave man to hang out with 7 women.

He's a keeper.

Hasty: Buy sailboat supplies while stateside to take home in an extra suitcase to your Bahamas winter house, avoiding a 50% tariff.

And...It's ok to read original poetry about your late mother, Twinkie,  and cry in front of the other cousins.

In fact, it's very healing for those of us who have lost our mothers recently.

I hope we don't walk too fast past what we experienced together this weekend. As our gait slows, perhaps our souls will also, long enough to savor, remember,

Carrie, Gwenie, Pachy, Abu. Hasty in front.

And especially still  taste the key lime pie and the baklava.

Next year, St Augustine!

Carrie, Hasty, Patience in back, Gwennie, Angela and Abu in front

Or one of the other Colonial Dames' homes that dot the country.

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