Relatives. We all have them and we either love them, tolerate them or would trade them in for the first decent offer or pack of chewing gum. Whether connected by blood or marriage, we’re stuck with them. Some however, we’re so blessed to have in our life.

My cousin Lisa married Andy many years ago and they have two wonderful sons. Andy fit in immediately. He’s a hard-working giant of a man, 6’4”, with a great mind for business, solid values and sometimes, a black and white view of what is right, what is wrong, what should be done and what shouldn’t. Anyone who knows Andy thinks of him as a calm, cool and always in control type of person with a wicked sense of humor. One year their family of four was able to travel from Arizona to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. After the last cup of coffee was served and pizzelle eaten, I went into the kitchen to find Andy standing at the sink. Everything was washed, dried and put away – a welcomed sight after cooking for 3 days for 29 people. It was however, three days later when I was looking for something that I realized that Andy had put everything away all the way in the back on the highest shelves he could find! This would be funny if I weren’t 4’11! Did I say he has a wicked sense of humor?

On one of our business trips to Arizona, Jeff and I booked a few extra days to stay with Lisa and Andy. We usually did this because, besides being the favorite cousins from the East coast, we had our own room, bath and the price was right. On this one visit, Andy bought home fresh rhubarb and strawberries with the intention of making his famous pie. I was excited because I never had a strawberry/rhubarb pie before…as a matter of fact, I had never even made a pie.

Being the perfect relative, I offered to help. Andy took control of the baking – laying out the ingredients to make the crust and the filling. As he masterfully measured, stirred, and beat the ingredients, I stood at the sink and washed and dried everything he handed me. All was going well until I started washing the rolling pin. Holy Master Chef, I thought I had accidently put the dog in the disposal! Andy tears around the corner of the cooking island, grabs the rolling pin out of my hands, looks me straight in the eye, well, as much as a tall man and a short woman can manage that feat, and says in a raised voice, “You never, EVER use soap on a wooden rolling pin”. “Seriously?” I asked him. “Then how do you clean it?” He went on to describe the who, what, where and especially the why of caring for a wooden rolling pin. At some point, I left the room but I don’t think he even noticed. By dinner time, Andy’s blood pressure had returned to normal, I refrained from bringing up the rolling pin and the dinner was wonderful –  especially the pie.

Don Corleone in the Godfather said “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when it is cold”. I totally agree. After dinner that night, I made sure that all the dishes, pots and pans I put away were in the back of the lowest cabinets I could find. As for the rolling pin itself, for Christmas that year I sent Andy a synthetic one that can be scrubbed, wash, dipped in soap or put in the dishwasher.

I once read that “Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” Not sure which one Andy and I are but I’m sure glad we’re family.

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