The Czarina and I took a short trip to Sarasota for a visit. My cousins who I shared many an adventure with out on the farm of our grandparents Frank and May Walter, a little boy, where on a vacation trip for some quality beach time. Two years ago Mike and Nancy actually came to Fort Myers but as fate would have it we were in Latvia visiting the Russian part of our spread out family.
Mike brought his family with him his children whom I hadn't seen in 16 years and Nancy brought her husband Bob, who's just about the best guy you could want to call friend, or cousin for that matter. Given the turmoil that has been our life as of late I think the Czarina and I were ambivalent at best about making the drive.
But as soon as I saw Mike and Nancy walking out to greet us from their beach side condo everything that had been troubling my mind the last three to four months disappeared. I think the Czarina noticed immediately. The four hours or so we spent with Mike, his new wife Christine, Bob and Nancy and another old friend Sheila Ryan and her boyfriend Paul, lifted some spirits that really needed lifting. It made me realize how much we had all been through and all the memories we shared, especially with Bob and Nancy.
For nearly a decade Bob and Nancy were a near weekly part of my life. Whether it was playing cards, drinking beer, family dinners, or going to a restaurant together, we had a lot of fun together. The Czarina was enraptured with Nancy's ability to tell story after story about her children, about me, about the fun we've all shared through the years.
On the drive home the Czarina compared notes about the differences between her Russian family and the one she's inherited in America. The vastness of Russia, the turmoil, and especially World War II, did a lot to tear her family apart. The Czarina is amazed at how close I am to my sisters and even the incredible closeness that we share with our cousins. Not just Mike and Nancy but our cousins Keith, Rita, and Kenny. It was a special evening and it made me realize that I can never take the bond that I have with my family for granted.