Big love comes from small families

I’m from a small town, and an even smaller family. When I say small, I mean that I have four first cousins and that I can count on 1 1/2 hands the number of people that show up at holiday gatherings.

We all even live within a 15 minute drive of each other.

That’s how I would have described my family two months ago, inadvertently grouping them together as being so easily accessible.

But this summer I traveled to visit someone who has essentially and regrettably been a stranger to me for the past 20 years of my life.

My Aunt Kim has been living in Denver since before I was born. Seeing her this summer was totally different because, although she’s been out to Cleveland to visit a handful of times, I never really knew her.

I had no idea that she has a teacup Chihuahua named Booboo, or a maniacal cat named Nina.

I didn’t know what she does for a living, who her friends are, or that she still has drawings that I sent her when I was 5 years old.

Mainly, I didn’t know how much I would wish she didn’t live in Colorado after bunking and spending time with her in her home.

It wasn’t until my grandpa suffered a severe heart attack two years ago that I think we all realized just how much we were missing out on.

In the time since then, she has been out to visit more times total than she had been the previous 18 years.

My parents and I had never even been out to Colorado before, apparently too busy living our own lives.

I will never forget the way I felt seeing my dad laughing and crying with his sister over margaritas at dinner.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that a member of my family has somewhere else they call home besides Ohio.

But she has surrounded herself with people who are probably closer to her than I could ever hope to be, and they are some of the warmest, most honest people I have ever met.

If I had to go back and choose just one moment of the summer to relive, I would be back in Denver in a second, strolling down Cofax with my aunt.

I still find myself torn between my relief that she has been happy there and my selfishness at wishing she could drop everything and move back to Cleveland.

The only solution is to make many return trips to Denver, the sooner the better.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to ski anyway.

CHRISTINE PEFFER

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