Aunt Marylou: the oldest of my mom’s siblings. She was the bossy one growing up with my mom, and they didn’t really get along. Now, she lives close by, and the two talk and spend time with each other more often. 

Uncle Mark: the oldest brother, and therefore the one who felt the pressure to be the man of the house when his father left. My mom and him got along the best as siblings, he and my dad were best friends growing up. His love for God is more evident than any other aspect of his life.

Uncle Brian: the one who’s called the most places home. He hasn’t lived in Washington for a while now, always moving around. But I guess that’s how it goes for a military man. He’s straightforward, and organized, but can be very kind and humorous. My mom’s favorite memory of his was the “surfing candidate” campaign he did for high school elections, almost bagging the title of class president… or treasurer or something. 

I didn’t really know any of you too well when I was younger. We lived in Washington, near the town you grew up and with the same people you had in your life here. Uncle Mark was the only one of my mom’s siblings to even live in the same state, so visits were the only times I had to get to know you. 

In these visits, I can recall Uncle Brian doing alot of pushups. Aunt Mary Lou trying to take a steak knife away from me, not knowing I’d used one many times before. Uncle Mark letting everyone try out his go cart before I ended up crashing it into a barrier. Uncle Bryce coming over during a power outage that forced us to eat elsewhere and catch a movie -cheaper by the dozen- while we were in town. I recall more memories about my cousins than about my uncles and aunt, but the difference in age left me bored with only the adults around. 

More often than not, the adults would come visit solo, so when the time came that my aunt brought her two kids with her, I was really excited for the visit. That excitement was short lived when a babysitter came by to watch us and all chaos began. No-thethoth was Anthonys favorite word for any order he was given, to the point he was put in time out, given Jessica’s newest toy only to break it. She cried over the broken thing, having just spent her own money on it after saving up for so long. Anthony went on the call someone on the phone, knock all the books off the shelves, and knock my dad’s exercise equipment flat on the ground. He was rambunctious, more so than Travis, making a mess while Aaron, Jessica, and I tried to put the house back in order. I’m pretty sure the babysitter cried a bit after the fiasco, leaving as soon as the adults got back.

Things were definitely more mellow without the cousins, and after that it was years before another one came along for the visit. Uncle Brian was living in Germany for a lot of my childhood, Aunt Mary Lou, in Iowa. Uncle Mark lived mostly in Seattle, while we were here… the middle of nowhere, Washington. 

My mom took a vacation to go see my Uncle Brian and his family, sending postcards that got to us after she arrived home. She told us about our cousins, and the places she’d seen with them. She’d taken so many pictures, mostly of the landscapes and buildings she’d been to, but they were still fun to look through with her. 

As time went on, people moved closer. Aunt Mary Lou now lives with my grandmother, Uncle Mark still lives in Washington state, as does Uncle Bryce. My Uncle Brian now lives in the country at least, I can’t recall which state, but still closer than across the Ocean. My cousins live closer too, two in Washington, two in Oregon, and one…. last I heard Colorado or something like that. 

We are a scattered family, most calling here home, but some still out and about on their own paths. Maybe in a few years, all will live close by, or maybe we’ll all live much further apart. Maybe we’ll move out of the comfort zone that is this place. Wherever life leads, family will remain family.

I love them all,

Melissa 

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