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BY FRANK TERRANELLA

Cousins Joe and

Cousins Joe and Kevin.

After more than half a century on the planet, the odds are that each of us has made some friends with whom we have lost touch for many years. The amazing thing is that when we finally get together, often it seems like no time has passed at all. I found out recently that the good-friend phenomenon extends to some family members as well.

Those who read this blog regularly may remember that in 2013, after 40 years, I met up with my cousin in Denmark who shares the same name . Well, it so happens that he has two brothers, Joe and Kevin, whom I also have not seen for long periods of time. I last saw my cousin Joe in 1987, and my cousin Kevin in 1977. There was no reason for the lack of personal contact – we were all just living our lives. Our common grandparents had died, and we just lost touch.

So when my cousin Joe’s wife Loretta contacted me via Facebook a few years back, it was a pleasant surprise. Joe had married Loretta after the last time I had seen him, so Loretta and I had never met. But she found me on Facebook, and we kept in touch that way.

Then, in December 2013, Loretta let me know she was planning a surprise 65th party for Joe. She didn’t expect me to come. She was just hoping I would write a message that she would place in a book of good wishes she was preparing to give Joe for his birthday. But I recognized that we are all at an age when we can’t be sure there will ever be another opportunity to get together. Illness or other impediments might make it impossible sometime soon. So after talking it over with my wife, we decided to fly for the weekend from New Jersey down to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Joe and Loretta make their home.

We were booked to fly down early on Saturday morning, and home on Sunday night.

That Thursday night, a snowstorm hit New Jersey. On Friday, we dug out from the six inches of snow and packed our bags. Saturday morning we awoke to a temperature of 8 degrees and headed to the airport with our fingers crossed that the flight would not be canceled. It turned out that not only did the flight leave on time, we arrived early. The 38 degree temperature we were greeted with in Charlotte seemed tropical by comparison.

That night we found our way to the site of the surprise party, and were greeted by Joe’s daughter, Leslie. My wife and I had met up with Leslie in 2012, but before that, we had not seen her since she was six. It’s interesting to see how kids turn out, and Leslie has turned out great. Of course, I missed all the drama years in between 6 and 32. I think that old adage about not wanting to see how the sausage is made applies to kids as well. It’s the end product that matters.

Two Pats

Pat met Pat.

Soon, other guests arrived, including my cousin Kevin. As soon as he walked into the room I knew him, even though I had not seen him in almost 37 years. We embraced, and began to catch up on each other’s lives. Kevin introduced his wife, Pat, and I introduced my wife, Pat. It was a “Pat Terranella meet Pat Terranella” moment that reminded me of my meeting with the other Frank Terranella in Denmark last year.

Kevin and I found that we both married our Pats in the same year – 1978. Then came the main event. My cousin Joe entered the room to a thunderous “Surprise!” and a round of “Happy Birthday.” I was standing towards the back of the room with my cousin Kevin. Joe immediately spotted me and called out my name. As with Kevin, we embraced and began the process of updating each other.

It was amazing how the years fell away. We were soon reminiscing about our youth spent at Lake Hopatcong, and remembering our common grandparents. By the end of the night, it was just as if Kevin, Joe and I had seen each other regularly for all those
decades.

I was happy we had made the effort to fly in for the party. It felt good to re-establish some old relationships. It felt that the karmic balance had been restored and I think our grandfather, the senior Frank Terranella, was smiling down on “his boys.”

But, of course, no good deed goes unpunished. Our flight back was delayed seven hours, and we got home at 3:30 Monday morning. Maybe our next reunion will be in New Jersey.