I recall it with precision. I saved every dollar I earned doing chores for my mom and grandma for the entire summer until I reached the magic number of $20. That was enough to purchase the Pink and Pretty Barbie my seven-year-old heart coveted. We went to Mervyn’s (a West coast retailer in the 1980’s akin to what Target would become) and I pricked with pride as I took the hot pink box to the cash register. Tucked inside our family’s turquoise station wagon on the way home, I didn’t take my eyes off Barbie’s blue eyes staring at me
We now have no mothers nor fathers. Adult orphans one could say. We cousins have become the elders in our clan. Our mothers were all children of the Great Depression. Two of the three married alcoholics. Two saw one of their children die. All were widowed. All found comfort in their faith. Growing up we had no Sandman family reunions or holiday celebrations with a houseful of cousins. We were strangers most of our lives, until texts reporting deaths drew us closer. I pull into the Pizza Ranch in Fort Dodge a bit before noon on a Friday in June.