Cousins came from all over to see Gen off. Pidge drove in from South Dakota; Jean, Barbara, Linda, Nancy, and Dale from Iowa; Pat came in from Rochester; Jon from either Florida or California (depends on whether he's working or at home), Tim from Mankato; Pidge's sister, Sharon, and Auntie Joyce from Blue Earth along with Mavis' locally based son, Bobby, with his beautiful and gracious wife, Nita. There were husbands and wives of cousins, fathers and mothers of cousins, children of cousins, and Elsie Hanson, one of Gen's childhood cohorts. Gen, observing from wherever people who resist the Almighty end up, was no doubt surprised and pleased, I think, especially when Joyce and Jon brought out the champagne and we drank a toast to her.
We adjourned to Joyce's for food and the camaraderie enjoyed by relatives who don't see one another very often. We shared stories about Gen, stories about horses and motorcycles, tales of travels and farming, family history and photographs, of growing up and of neighbors and pets, of food and fun.
One-by-one, the crowd thinned until it was time for us to leave too.
We haven't visited Blue Earth very often during our lives; Gen's life kept us away except for the special times of funerals and the occasional reunions. Now she's come home for good and she will draw us back there to laugh and love among the people of her Minnesota upbringing, the people of our strong and healthy roots.
We drove back to the hotel in Mankato, to rest up for the night before our Mother's Day flights home. The matter of the smelly van found a resolution, as did a solid reason why Becky does not have a tumor in spite of detecting kitty odor for several weeks prior. Robert, working in the yard at home, left his sneakers on the back porch. The notorious spraying cat, Princess, who has been banned from the house for a decade-and-a-half due to her unseemly tendency to mark her territory, took vengeance on Robert's shoes. Robert, a reformed smoker, didn't notice.
A trip to the mall across the highway from the hotel produced new shoes. The old ones remain in a dumpster in Mankato. Everybody was relieved and amused. We all boarded our planes and headed home, to continue our lives without Gen.