Last summer our son Michael married Melissa. Many of my cousins on my mother’s side of the family (the Roma clan) were able to attend the wedding. As is typical with weddings, the time passed too quickly and I had barely spoken to any of them for more than a few minutes. Happily, my cousin Joan returned home with me to spend the rest of the week in Central New York. This was fun for us both, as Joan was the original family member to settle in this area back in the seventies. Much had changed but a lot of the area was also familiar to her. At some point during Joan’s stay we wondered if Joan’s dog Oliver, who was also our Bella’s biological brother, would ever reunite with Bella. That would involve either a long car ride from or to Florida where he and Joan live, or a flight eventually ending in NY or FL.
As luck would have it, Joan was scheduled to attend a conference in this area this summer and decided to bring Oliver along. When our other Roma cousins heard that Joan would be in the area, they all planned a trip at the same time so that we could have somewhat of a reunion. This time we would be able to spend quality time with each other and also enjoy the area, good food and company. Our cousins Denise, Linda and Patrick also brought their dog Lulu. The three dogs had no problem fitting into the gatherings. Cousins John, Pat, Gene and Janet also joined in on the fun. Since Ron was away on his trip to Italy with our daughter Michele, I was lucky to have my brother Ray available to grill the three meals we had planned for everyone. Pam and Ray hosted one of the meals at their house; here the dogs did not join us. Ray and Pam have many cats who are unfamiliar with canines- it just wasn’t an option. At our house the dogs spent mealtime under the table together, hoping one or more of us would drop something for them to taste. It was wonderful to see all my cousins since we just don’t get the opportunity to gather very often. I was also happy the dogs got along so well.
Ron returned and we enjoyed a few quiet and relaxing days with Joan and Oliver after everyone else had returned home. Bella and Oliver actually got along quite well. When we first re-introduced them, on leashes in a neutral area on the front lawn, they immediately seemed to recognize each other. Lots of tail wagging and jumping for joy began a week of good times. I finally got around to painting a watercolor of the litter mates. This pose definitely had treats involved. Oliver is much better behaved and trained than his sister Bella, although Oliver was insistent upon making friends with (or just chasing) my two young male cats. Unfortunately the cats were not of the same mind and we did spend some time disciplining Oliver. Bella shared her toys and our furniture with Oliver. It was as if they had never been separated a long seven years ago. It is always much the same scenario when the Roma cousins unite. We spent our childhood years together with our parents who were all very close. My cousins are friends I would have chosen even if they weren’t related to me. The memories and family ties are strong and always result in much laughter and love. I am lucky to come from such a wonderful family. Bella is, too.