Reconnect with family and friends to enrich your life

Last Saturday, I got an e-mail from a person whom I had never met.
The title line was “get acquainted.”
So with a little bit of trepidation, I opened it. And to my surprise, the e-mail began this way:
“Dear Marie, My name is Jane Bast Stoffer, one of the Great Gingerich Gang. I would really enjoy getting to know you, and think e-mail could be a good start.”
I recognized the name as a daughter of my oldest cousin, Violet, and was delighted.
Growing up, I had 47 cousins–12 on my mother’s side and 35 on my father’s side.
Most of them grew up in Lewis County, N.Y. where I lived. Many went to school and church with me. Only four lived in western New York state and five in Ontario.
At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was. But as an adult, I realize what a wonderful childhood I had with all those fun cousins.
On my mother’s side, I was the oldest one. But on my father’s side, I was in the middle. Violet was the oldest and Ed was the youngest.
Violet died far too young, and I haven’t been in touch with any of her children for years.
But Ed, on the other hand, was so much younger that he was born after I had left for college. So I never knew him as an adult until I met him at a Gingerich reunion eight years ago.
After that initial meeting, we’ve become very good Internet friends.
With his characteristic sense of humour, Ed’s e-mails or instant messages often begin, “This is your youngest and cutest cousin.”
I’m not so sure about “cutest,” but at least he is the “youngest!” And he is a lot of fun to talk with on the Internet.
Most of my cousins still live in the eastern States, but we keep up by e-mail through times of fun and sorrow.
Jane was three years old when I left for college. So as a result, I have never met her. But what a delight to put Violet’s daughter on my cousin e-mail list.
I especially appreciated the story Jane told.
She wrote: “After your mother was widowed, Mom said, ‘That Aunt Dorothy, she is amazing. Nothing keeps her down. When she wants to see her kids who live far away, she gets in her car and drives there all by herself!’”
Indeed, it was very “far away”–almost 2,000 miles. My brother lived in the state of Washington and I in western Canada.
As a young person growing up, Jane said she was impressed by this bravery. And now as a grandmother, she lives in Ohio and drives by herself to Georgia and Kentucky to see her grandchildren.
We’ve already exchanged multiple e-mails, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Jane better and to meet her in person, as she loves to travel!
The Internet is just one more tool that can help you keep in touch with people you know.
What family members or friends have you lost track of? Why not enrich your life by reconnecting with them online, by phone, or through the mail?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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