Friday, August 14, 2009

Eight Cousins

Here we are, eight cousins together again after thirty years. That's me with the babies.

As a child my cousins rivaled my parents in claim to my love and attention and getting to all be together again at our family reunion in Shelton was divine. We are the quintessential baby boomers. Initially there were five of us born between 1945 and 1951 (four between 1950 and 1951) with three more, the babies, born during the 1960s and the youngest of which is only two years older than my own oldest child.

It had been thirty years since I’d seen my oldest cousin Steve and I’d never met his lovely wife Linda. She’s a wonderful addition to the family and I am only sorry that they live so far away in Tucson and that we are not free to travel as most of our family is. Most of us are old enough to be retired while my husband and I continue to work “as long as they keep paying me.”

Ours was the generation that had home movies and we enjoyed looking at ourselves as babies on my father’s and my uncle’s movies while eating my grandmother’s pineapple cookies. Uncle Dick was the family historian having put a lot of actual leg work (pre Internet) into tracking down records and graves from Pennsylvania to Missouri and in books even back to England although none of us have gone there. That’s one of my dreams along with visiting Jamestown where our very first ancestors stepped ashore in the New World on the resupply ship for that tiny colony. His daughter Janice has stepped into the breach left by her father’s passing. She has all of his computer records and keeps track of all of us. She also brought pictures her father had identified for her before his passing four years ago.

My cousin Rick helped me straighten out in my mind the whole first cousin, second cousin, first-cousin-once removed thing. It has always confused me and is likely to again since I can’t remember a thing fifteen minutes. Besides solving that mystery, this lovely man, knowing that I’m not big on the beef or pork that was being barbequed for dinner, just for me cooked some of the salmon he’d caught in Alaska. He and his wonderful wife (another Sped Paraeducator) live entirely too far away in Missouri, but Dave and I discovered that it is possible to get to Branson on the train and that’s close enough for them to come get us thus fulfilling my husband’s desire for a train trip and mine to spend more time with them. They live in a house on a bluff over Table Rock Lake, situated so that when on their deck you feel as if you are in a tree house.

Janice, the only other girl in the pack of us and Rick’s sister, was as dear as a sister while we were growing up. Then her parents took her off to Missouri at the end of our junior year and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since. She’s in Idaho now which really ought not and should not be a problem. Now she has a married son in Vancouver, Washington so I hope our state will again claim more of her attention.

Mark, together with his older brother Steve, were always fun when we were altogether at our grandparents. Having no sisters they were unaware that tormenting was the order of the day. They were amiable companions and a distraction to Janice’s brother who delighted in nettling us. Both of them contain their father’s gentle heart and he was a favorite of mine.

It was a big deal when the babies came along. I was nine when Danny was born. Bobby came along two years later and Tommy only two years before my own daughter. Unfortunately I don’t know them as well as the four others, but on the occasions that I am able to be with them and to see their children (and now even a grandchild) I am glad to be related to them and wish I saw them often.

Steve commented that he might not be available for another reunion if we wait 30 years. I hope we do not. My grandson is likely to be an only child and my hope for him is to have wonderful memories and relationships with his cousins. I know how important that will be to him in the years to come.

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