Friday, February 29, 2008

Meeting Some New (to me) Cousins. . .

We had a wonderful, very long day yesterday. A 1st cousin of Donna's, one she hadn't seen in 40 years, was in Newport Beach for a couple of days. Bob Brenner and his wife Linda are visiting from Osage Beach, MO. So we picked them up in the morning, about an hours drive from our house, and continued on to San Diego for the day to spend time with Donna's parents. Bob had just one request of something he insisted on doing; eating at a good delicatessen. They simply don't have any Jewish style delis in his area of Missouri.

Below is a picture of Bob and Linda seated at D.Z. Akins, an outstanding deli in San Diego before lunch arrived at the table.

I mention that this was before the meal because Bob ordered what seemed like half the menu. . .and ate just about all that he ordered. He's a thin guy but he polished off a chopped liver appetizer platter, a potato knish and a corned beef sandwich. And all the time he was eating, he was regaling us with stories of their life in Osage Beach and other communities in which they lived before moving there. While Linda had been raised in southern Kansas, the rest of us (Donna's parents, Donna, me, and Donna's brother Ron) had ties to Detroit and recalled many stories about family dating back to the middle third of the last century. Linda didn't get a chance to say much but was busy with the matzoh ball soup and, if I recall correctly, a sandwich. Once the meal was over, Bob was happy for the rest of the day and then some. He had gotten his deli fix.

The rest of the afternoon was talking, talking, talking. Oh, the stories and the memories. Resa and Sy (Donna's parents) had moved to southern California about 57 years ago, not long after Donna was born. I left Detroit in 1961 and have only been back a handful or so times since. But we shared stories of the city, of families, of events, of places that we remembered. Bob shared a few more stories than the rest of us but we got our share in. And then for dinner, we made sure they got to eat at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants because we just knew that it couldn't be matched in their part of Missouri. Of course Bob, having eaten so much for lunch, ate very little for dinner; all he ordered was a bowl of freshly made guacamole.

After dinner, we drove Bob and Linda back to Newport Beach, talking all the way, and continued on home. I know how much Donna enjoyed seeing this cousin she hadn't seen since she was a teenager. For me, it was a chance to meet a part of the Brenner family I had only heard about. . .and to make some new, very dear friends.

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