Monday, March 26, 2007

Three Minutes to Clean...

March 26, 2007

Don't you just love those days when everything works out just right? So about an hour after we got home from our support group's weekly enrichment classes, the phone rang (and I answered, which is a slight miracle in itself). It was my cousin Millard, whom I haven't seen in 10 years. Millard had just flown in from DC and was leaving the airport, which is three minutes from my house. He was thinking he'd drop in and visit for awhile, perhaps invite himself for dinner. Did I mention Milliard is a Rear Admiral (retired) in the US Navy? Did I mention he's a nuclear engineer and, well, a big-wig kinda guy?

But I said in my calmest voice, "Come on over!" You see, my house was spotless. We'd had a shindig here this weekend, and two days later, the house was still spotless. While I gave Millard directions, the kids and I ran through the house picking up stray items, clearing off the table, and putting away our book bags. Laurel made sure the toilet was flushed and that there weren't any toys in the sinks. I was just putting away a few dishes when Millard pulled in the driveway. THREE minutes to a clean house.

Millard might live in a million-dollar house, but he's a down-to-earth kind of guy. Well, down-to-earth but speaking a different language. He's in town doing consulting with a uranium manufacturing firm in Oak Ridge, so he gave me a brief run-down of the secrets of Oak Ridge and of uranium. I'm sorry, but I truly can't repeat a thing he said except for "radiation leakage" (including a disturbing tale of "hot" deer in Oak Ridge) 235 and 238. He was kind enough to speak to me as if I had a clue what he was talking about.

Later Randy came home and we fixed a fabulous supper while my parents and Millard chatted (my mother is Millard's aunt). Supper conversation included such varied topics as physics, algebra, the history of science, politics, economics, football, and basketball. Now if you know me and you read that list of topics, you know that I had a glazed look in my eyes. But it is a pleasure listening to four brilliant adults (my husband, my parents, and my cousin) converse with enthusiasm on everything from "Why Tennessee bands play Rocky-Top all the time" to "Why the history of science should be taught." If I were a casual observer, I would have thought that Randy was the blood relative and I was the in-law. Good grief! Couldn't they talk about literature for just a few minutes?

And to top it all off, Millard used the word "nonplussed" in conversation in a perfectly natural way, and he used one word which I, yes I, the Queen of Grammar and All Such Related Things, have never, ever heard of. I can't even remember it to repeat it.

What a fun night, and what a joy to spend an afternoon and evening with a cousin I barely know. I found him truly delightful and funny. I am left with that wistfulness of wishing I knew my cousins better, of the years slipping away without embracing family to the fullest.

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