Yesterday, my cousin, his wife, and their two kids made their annual trip to La Crosse to see the fall leaf colors. Unfortunately, the colors haven't been particularly vibrant this year, but we had a really nice day anyway. We went to McGregor and Marquette, Iowa, just over the river from Prairie du Chien, to shop for antiques (I only bought a cheap fake pearl necklace), stopped at an orchard just as it was closing, had dinner together, then came home. After my cousin and the kids went to bed, his wife and I stayed up till nearly 4am talking, which was fun.
It's been years since I stayed up so late, and it kind of reminds me of all the times we'd visit my cousin's family growing up. My dad and his dad were buddies (my parents met when Dad was my uncle's best man when he married my mom's sister), and no two men liked to talk better than Laverne and Dad. When visiting my parents' hometown area, we would often visit them and stay till way late before going back to Grandpa and Grandma's house to sleep for a few hours till church on Sunday morning. My brother and I loved to play with my two cousins, who had four-wheelers, video games, a pool table, and tons of other crazy fun ideas. I also enjoyed (with some horror) watching my cousins pound on each other. My brother and I only ever play fought (besides shouting at one another), so to watch an authentic fight was pretty fascinating to me.
My cousin who visited was the younger son, and I idolized him growing up. I didn't want to play with my girl cousin who was closer to my age--she was way boring in comparison, though we're really good friends now. He was crazy and cool and always so nice to me. He came to stay at our house for a few days one summer, and he graciously played house with me for awhile instead of playing Atari with my brother. How's that for a good guy?
While we were all out shopping yesterday, he reminded me of something I had completely forgotten. He asked if I remembered when my dad would call me Sunshine, particularly when I was upset. "What's the matter, Sunshine?" he would say as he picked me up to comfort me. It's funny that I had completely forgotten that, but I do remember my mom (lovingly) calling me Missy Butt, Booger Butt, and Poop Sock. Haha. I've been thinking about that ever since, and the memory of it has really been particularly powerful for some reason. I guess maybe it goes with the more general nostalgia I've been feeling lately, but it's such a warm, safe feeling to remember those moments of being taken care of, being cuddled when I needed soothing, being loved.
It's a reminder that I'm a very lucky person, even now. Dad hasn't called me Sunshine in more than 20 years, I imagine, and given that I'm an adult, it would be creepy and weird to sit on his lap or be cuddled. But I still always know that I can call home and get help when I need it. I'm loved in the same way, even though I take care of myself most of the time. I'm still someone's Sunshine.