Lebanon Reporter


August 7, 2012

They don’t call me Cousin Grace

— Back in 1989, I met my future mother-in-law’s family for the first time. She is one of seven children born to a Quaker minister. My mother-in-law and her sisters are well-bred, soft-spoken ladies who often have the appearance of gliding through a room rather than walking. Hubby’s female cousins display the same genteel characteristics. Many of the women in the family still wear long skirts and keep their hair in a tidy bun. 

When I came on the scene, at the age of 19, my bleached blonde hair was as brassy as my Baptist girl gone bad attitude. I fumbled through my first family reunion, convinced I would be dubbed with the nickname Faux Pas. But remarkably, I was welcomed with open arms. No one judged me for wearing Crimson Harlot lipstick, and I heard not a single sigh of disdain when my clodhopper tendencies overtook my pathetic attempt to gracefully glide across the room. 

Nearly 25 years later, I have a deep affection for each of hubby’s family members, and consider them my own. So last week, when we were on a business trip to Kentucky, I enthusiastically made plans to meet Uncle Paul and his family for dinner.  

Paul is the baby of the family, and the only boy. I never had the privilege of meeting their mama, but I know she took the same joy and pride in her son that I take in mine. Years ago, we were watching old family movies, and on the wall above their mother’s couch hung the school pictures. They were arranged with three girls on either side, the plain wooden frames gradually angling upwards. At the apex was Paul’s picture framed in ornate golden gilt. It was a silent movie, but you could practically hear the angels singing, “PAUL-lelujah!” 

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