I got a cryptic e-mail several weeks ago inviting me to establish contact with a cousin I’ve never met. I sent back a vague response and asked for proof.

You can never be too safe these days. I get all sorts of e-mail invitations to receive huge sums of money from persons with no relatives and to send in personal identification in order to restore lost credit information.

I decided that my “cousin” really wasn’t my cousin. Otherwise he would have responded to my inquiry.

But today I answered the phone and the person on the other end acted very familiar in his greeting. “Who is this?” I asked. It was the person who sent the e-mail, and he really is my cousin.

He was not aware my father had died. He asked about my aunts. He told me that I had cousins all over this part of California. And he told me about some family characteristics.

I was amazed at his persistence. Finding my e-mail address, putting up with my caution, and finally getting my phone number proved to me that this was a person with a great sense of family and heritage. He didn’t realize it, but he gave me a big gift.