By Donna Erickson
I phoned cousin Nora in Vancouver, British Columbia, surprised there was someone still alive who was my mother’s first cousin. I said, “I’m Philip Koven’s granddaughter, and she remarked, “Isn’t that amazing!!” Nora was 90 years old and not feeling very well. She put me in touch with her children and her nieces, and we began corresponding.
My cousin, Penelope, was thrilled to hear the news, as was my brother, Rob. We all began calling and e-mailing each other. After a few months, Nora was on the mend, and we began speaking regularly. Penelope spoke of taking a ferry from her hometown of Seattle to Vancouver Island for a visit. It was then that I realized I wanted to go, too! For me, it would mean flying across the country first. So, I began planning my trip and saving my money. We decided we would arrange a Labor Day weekend reunion.
The plan was to fly to Seattle and stay overnight with Penelope. Then we would take the ferry together to cross the border. Nora’s sister, Olive, had passed away in 1984. She had 3 children and 2 were living in Canada- Trudy and Andrea. Their brother, Michael, lives in Germany. Trudy offered to have me stay a few days with her and her husband, Doug.
I kept busy during the coming months planning all of the arrangements—flights, hotels, ferries, getting a passport, etc. When the time came, I was more than excited. That morning, a sedan from a limousine service picked me up to bring me to the airport. As we rode along the busy highway, heading to Logan Airport, the unthinkable happened. I remember screaming, “Oh, no!” as the sedan crashed into the vehicle in front of us. Two other cars had collided ahead of them, and there were four cars involved all together. A state policeman appeared at my window, asking if I were okay. I was banged up but felt all right. I found myself standing on the shoulder of the highway with the others involved. I felt crushed. As they continued to fill out reports and check licenses, etc., it all hit me. I realized I wasn’t going to make the trip I had planned all year. I made sure they realized I was supposed to catch a plane. First, they were going to try and send another vehicle to transport me. After getting the front hood to close on the sedan, the police officer said it would be okay for the driver to take me. It was only 10 minutes away.
Luckily, I had shipped out my luggage by UPS and didn’t have to check baggage at the airport. If I hadn’t taken that step, I never would have made it. When I arrived, the line was forming to board the plane. I couldn’t believe I made it.
The rest was a dream, come true. We had a magnificent reunion. I was running on pure adrenaline the entire time. Bruises appeared and I was sore, but I was having such a great time with my new family that I wasn’t focused on the pain. When I returned, I realized I did have some injuries—a sprained neck, back, ribs, and knee. But it was all worth it. I am about 90% healed now, after months of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment.
Nora celebrated her 91st birthday and continues to amaze me. I have been blessed with many new cousins who are all wonderful, warm, kind, and caring people. I have learned a lot about my family. With my new family members, I look forward to many happy years ahead.
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