Yesterday my first cousin, Dan, who is about a year and a half older than I am, visited me for breakfast. Dan and I were very close as children. We saw each other on a regular basis when our families got together for holidays and on weekends. But since then, we have not seen each other for decades at a time. Last year, he came with his brother to visit my parents and we spent some time together. It was funny to have to ask about what he had been doing with his whole life there in Israel (he has been busy, suffice it to say) and what I have done with mine.
I always liked Dan for his uncharacteristically calm demeanor and his kindness. He hasn't changed in that respect. He is an Orthodox Jew, but never behaves in self-righteous or pushy ways about his beliefs. He is tolerant and open minded, or at least not contentious, like other members of the family.
Because he keeps Kosher, it was always a bit of a business to host him for a meal. I had to use paper plates and plastic forks and buy things I knew were strictly kosher. I settled on two kinds of fish salad, smoked whitefish and salmon salad, which said they were Kosher clearly on the labels. And I went over to the bagel store to pick up an assortment of fresh bagels at 6:30 A.M. yesterday morning, providing sliced red onion and fresh sliced cluster tomatoes and avocado to put on the sandwich.
Since he and his friend from work had been traveling for hours and had only just arrived, they tucked into the food and ate much of it, along with coffee and juice.
I didn't offer him lunch, though he stayed till 2 PM. I could have taken him to a vegetarian restaurant I suppose.
It was interesting to talk to him about his life, his kids, his wife, and his grandchild, and to tell him about my life and family too. Most of all, I was glad he was able to meet and speak with R, though Jeremy was not around--he was at work, and isn't much for visiting with relatives anyhow.
He invited me to come visit him in Israel, where I can stay with him and be taken around to see people and places. I have so many relatives there that I could travel from one to another and never have to stay in a hotel or feel that I was burdening anyone. I'm hoping I can go visit them sometime soon.