Visiting kinfolk is a time-honored rural tradition. Perhaps its an urban tradition as well and I'm just out of touch. I would love to learn more about urban visiting!
Here in the rural world I grew up in, we visit. We just drop in on family. We stay for a chat, or we stay all day, or we stay for a week. Visiting is a vanishing art. My sister and I struggled with that this weekend. Our visitation skills are rusty!
We wanted to reach out to our father's cousin who lives in a town near our hometown in North Texas. We were driving through that town on our way to "puzzle day" with our mom. "Let's call her" turned into "let's stop by and visit with her" because "that's what Daddy would do" and so we did!
We pulled into the driveway thinking, "is this even still her address?" We rang the doorbell. There wasn't an answer. Giving up was certainly an option, since we were already late for our date with mom. Our cousin's neighbor was working in his front yard and he noticed us.
My sister: "Do you know who lives here?" Neighbor, "Yes" (suspiciously!)
She tried a new tack and asked him if he knew our elderly cousin - by name this time.
He acknowledged he did. What ensued is nothing short of a miracle!
We explained our purpose. But it's HARD to explain that even though we haven't seen this person in several years, we have a genuine, well-meaning interest in her. He agreed to call her son. While all this was going on, the neighbor's wife walked out and mentioned that an ambulance and fire engine had just left the house. They didn't see for sure if it was our cousin's house or the house across the street that was visited by emergency vehicles.
Meanwhile, the neighbor put us in touch with the son who told us the code for the garage. After entering the garage, he remarked on the phone, "it's odd that the door into the kitchen from the garage is locked." We tried to gain entrance to the house - cautiously! This is Texas after all, if it were me, and I was alone; and I heard people trying to enter my house, I might meet them with a gun!
Soon, another son was on the way. We found a key hanging on a hook. It worked in the front door. We entered the house with the neighbor. We didn't find our cousin! But her bed had been slept in and her glasses were still on her nightstand!
We bowed out gracefully with "once all is settled please let us know how she's doing. Drive safe." This was not our moment to visit!
Later we learned that she had called for an ambulance herself due to shortness of breath. She was admitted to ICU with pneumonia later that day. Even though we didn't get to visit yesterday, we will visit her again soon!