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One Moment, Please... Cousins

Fri, Aug 15th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with my cousin from California. His wife is from Wisconsin, so they came back to visit her family, and coordinated their schedule to meet up with us in Minnesota.

We found a meeting point that many of our readers have probably frequented. My wife and I took a day off from work to take our children to the National Eagle Center located in Wabasha, Minn.

While my children had been there for field trips, my wife and I had never made the trek.

It was great meeting up with Ian Sethre and his wife Jill, along with their sons Henry and Graham. And, while the National Eagle Center was impressive, I was more interested in getting reacquainted with my cousin.

While Ian and myself are miles apart, we share a lot of common denominators. His father and my father are brothers born and raised in Preston, Minn. And, while he grew up in Colorado and I was raised in Minnesota, we were born only one month apart. I was born in January and he was born in February.

And, our weddings were only one month apart. My wife and I were married in July 2000, and he and his wife were married in August 2000.

Yes, we definitely share a lot of common threads.

Over the course of two-and-a-half hours, as we strolled around the National Eagle Center, we talked about what he did for work and what I did for work. And, we talked about what life was like in the areas where we lived.

Truly, our meeting wasn’t fair to all that the National Eagle Center had to offer, but this was a small family reunion bringing a couple generations together. I hope the staff at the NEC appreciates their contribution to the event.

Both my cousin and I each had two children that had been born since we were both married back in 2000. And, his children are nearly the same age as our children.

A lot happens over the course of 14 years. And, while Facebook presents an opportunity to stay in touch, it always only lends itself to a birds-eye view.

As our conversation unraveled, Ian and I continually referenced how waiting 14 years to see each other was far too long. At this pace, we’d meet again when we’re ages 54, 68, 82 and 96.

He invited us to visit him and his family out in California. We will definitely welcome this invitation at some point in the future, hopefully.

My point for bringing up this entire event is to underscore the challenges we face in our society as we attempt to strike a balance between personal and professional objectives.

Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to live near family. My wife and I lived in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin from 1999 to 2008, following my career path for professional growth. It was a great experience, we met a lot of great people, and I learned quite a bit as I stepped outside of my comfort zone.

But, once our daughter was born in 2004, we started yearning to move back to where we grew up -- where the majority of our family resides. We wanted our children to connect with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We were fortunate to find that opportunity here in Southeast Minnesota where our families have roots dating back for many generations.

In this ever-changing world, we need to sometimes become more mobile to follow our dreams, and staying close to family becomes a real challenge.

I’m sure I’m not alone on this one. If you are lucky enough to have your family living close by, be thankful.

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