I have a very large extended family. I can't even tell you how many first cousins I have as there are several that I've never even met. This is so different from Leroy's family. Most of his extended family (which is large too) is here in California and even if they've moved away they all grew up in the same general area. The majority of my aunts, uncles and cousins are in Utah, Idaho and Washington.
One of my cousins has always been a bit more of a legend for me than a reality. My cousin Dale is about the same age as my brothers. What I knew of him as a child growing up were from the stories my mother told. He is the son of my mom's brother, Earl and my mother thought he was pretty darn close to perfection. I remember when he was called to his LDS mission, it was with an air of reverence and pride whenever his name came up in conversation. After his return we were told how wonderful Dale had been doing in his business ventures and how well he took care of his parents. When Dale married, of course he took the perfect bride and raised extraordinary children and continued to prove that he was, indeed as close to perfection as anyone could be.
Now you'd think that this would cause me to be cynical or maybe even a little jealous, but I never was. The thing is, whenever I had the privilege of being around Dale and his family, I really enjoyed it. It sounds too simple to say that he's like-able, but I don't know how else to explain it. He always lived up to the hype. (That sounds harsh, but there was a lot of hype from my mother.) He really was as extraordinary in person as he was in the stories.
Dale and Trudy are on a trip through the state of California and made time to come to the Central Valley to see us. We met at Curtis and Linda's in Manteca for dinner tonight to visit with our first cousins and to catch up on each other's lives. Thanks to Facebook, Trudy and I have been in better contact over the last year so it was easy to fall into conversation, not feeling so much like a stranger among family. I look forward to reconnecting more often. I would love to travel to Washington to visit the rest of the family and Dale's sweet mother. Dale and Trudy invited us to join them on a couple of their adventures including a river-raft trip and/or a bike ride through Canada. I'm officially putting those things on my "bucket list" and I'm going to make sure they happen. My mother would be so happy.