I grew up in a small family. My parents were both only children so I have no first cousins. But the lore of the Francks of Berlin, Germany, the generation of my father’s mother and her four brothers, filled the space of family history.
This was a larger-than-life generation, at times volcanic and cantankerous, five siblings who survived two world wars. All but one ultimately found their way to the United States.
Growing up, I saw quite a lot of four of my fellow grandchildren of that generation. Margaret and Stephanie Franck lived on a farm in Connecticut in a rambling house filled with heavy, hardcover baseball books. Marion and Ron Franck lived north of New York City and over the years their father also built a funky and fun cottage in the mountains to the north.
Margaret and Stephanie have remained friends for life. Our daughters grew up with their kids, and we all still get together for holidays in Boston. But Marion and Ron moved to California and our meetings have been sporadic and infrequent over the decades. So it really was remarkable today that Marion and her husband Bob happened to visit Aix on the same weekend Stephanie, Margaret and her husband Jim are visiting.
Family matters more as we age as do the shared stories of our past and heritage. And to sit outside on a crystal clear Provence spring day, swapping stories of family, travel and times past over a leisurely and delicious plat du jour of leg of lamb at one of our favorite Aix restaurants was special.
We can’t make up for the years we lost touch with Marion and Bob. But now that we’ve re-established a friendship so far from both our homes, we can work harder to plan our next meeting rather than leave it to the serendipitous happenstance of place and time.