Cousins – Friends Forever?

Cousins are those childhood playmates who grow up to be forever friends — Anonymous

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Ready to go swimming at a family reunion. I am the one in the droopy drawers who awkwardly was not looking at the camera.

Besides growing up with five brothers and two sisters, I was blessed with 45 first cousins.  My father came from a family of 9 children and my mother was from a family of 5 and family gatherings were large, crowded, boisterous affairs.  Most of us lived fairly close to one another and we saw each other rather frequently.  Outside of school, I spent more time with my cousins than any childhood friends.

We had annual reunions, huge Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, first communion and confirmation parties, birthday, anniversary, graduation, and wedding celebrations as well as visits to each other’s homes.  Most of the celebrations were with either the maternal or paternal side of the family, but occasionally both sides would be together.

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On my first communion day surrounded by cousins. I was all dressed up and couldn’t play until after pictures were taken so I could change out of my dress.

I recall some planned play with some of the cousins.  Our reunions usually included swimming and/or playground equipment to play on.  Sometimes at birthdays we played cards or dice games or bingo.  I remember an Easter egg hunt in the hay mow of our dairy barn organized by my mother.  There were softball games.  Many times we just amused ourselves with random games of anything that caught our fancy.  Of course, as we grew up our interests and the way we spent our time changed but we continued to get together.

But life happens.  As we got older and started to have jobs, we saw less and less of each other.  Some of us went away to college; image  others did not.  Pretty soon we only saw each other at weddings and funerals.  Some of us moved far away from the communities of our youth and visits became less and less frequent.

At the end of last month, my brother and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. All of our first cousins were invited.  Many of them were able to attend. I flew half way across the country to join in the festivities.  I saw many cousins and their spouses, some of whom I had not seen in 40 years.  We conversed as if we had not been separated for decades. We caught up on family news.  We laughed and we reminisced and memorialized some who are deceased. Of all my aunts and uncles only one is still alive, and she attended with her children.  In a group as large as ours there is quite an age disparity. When we were children I was among the younger set of cousins and the older ones didn’t play with us.  At this time of our lives those age differences no longer matter.  I had great conversations with some cousins who I had never conversed with before.  Even though our lives took wild divergent paths, there is something about those common roots that will always bind us together.

Our time together was bittersweet, because we are all aging and there is a distinct possibility that we will never see some of these people again.  That is why it is so important to unite and celebrate the milestones when you can.  Meanwhile, we enjoyed our time together.

My own daughter did not have the benefit of growing up near her cousins.  She barely knows some of them.  Society has changed with smaller families and much greater mobility.  Many family connections are lost.  Hopefully, adequate substitutes are found to replicate some of the advantages of an extended family.  That just may be the topic for another time.

Reconnecting with my cousins, another thread of my life.

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21 thoughts on “Cousins – Friends Forever?

  1. Tim Taylor March 12, 2015 / 1:23 pm

    Great post! Reminded me of my childhood days, growin’ up with family all around me. You’ve put me in a nostalgic mood now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:34 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Nostalgia is good. We need to remember where we came from.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Annette Rochelle Aben March 12, 2015 / 1:29 pm

    I too come from a large family.. both my parents, the youngest of 13 children which gives me cousins old enough to be my parents… Love this and appreciate each and every memory you shared and each and every memory stirred within me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:37 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It was a great life growing up with a large family. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  3. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature March 12, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    Cousins are very special people who we have known and who have known us all our lives. I am still very close to one faily of cousins. we are scattered around the world, but we manage to stay in pretty close touch. I also treasure all those little square black and while photos. It looks like you are looking at one of your older cousins, sort of adoring her. Really cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:38 pm

      Thanks so much. You may well have figured out what I was doing in the picture. I really did like that cousin. There are a few cousins that I stay in touch with but it was so great to see the others.

      Like

  4. busy lady March 12, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    I spent my younger years close to my cousins, but then moved many miles away. However, many of them are still part of my life and when I moved back to the area, though still several miles away, I was able to enjoy the relationship once again. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it is great. However, some of us are getting older, and it is a wise word you have in saying we may not see them again. I do wish my daughters could have gotten to know their cousins better. It is sad that this happens. I often think about the pioneers who moved so far away from their parents and siblings, perhaps never to see them again! It is a sad thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:42 pm

      You bring up a good point about the pioneers. I cannot imagine having my daughter move away knowing that I may never see her again. She does not live close but with air travel and modern communication we can visit each other and stay in touch. I don’t think we realized at the time how special it was to be part of a large family.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. susieshy45 March 12, 2015 / 3:20 pm

    Helen,
    What a wonderful post and thank you for sharing your memories with us as you often do. It is great that you are able to keep up with some of them at least- maybe you need to take a trip across the country and drive to meet each and every one of your cousins. It can be part of your bucket list. I wish I had as many cousins as you have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:43 pm

      When I retire i do hope to do some traveling. I hadn’t thought of doing it to see my cousins but there is a lot of the country I have not seen and it would be nice to work those things in together. Thanks so much for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. swimsonemile March 12, 2015 / 4:32 pm

    I enjoyed your post today. It is a bittersweet reminder to enjoy our families. And at least you didn’t have one of those awful bathing caps that were so popular back in the day. Ugh I hated those things.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:46 pm

      The funny thing is I was probably jealous because I didn’t have one of those swim caps. How time can give us a different perspective on things. I seem to remember that kids had to wear those for swimming lessons. I, unfortunately, never had swimming lessons and cannot swim to this day.Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature March 12, 2015 / 6:17 pm

    Yes, Swinsonemile, they were so tight, and hard to get your hair into, and they pinched, and that strap! How about the ones with the big flowers on them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 12, 2015 / 11:47 pm

      You seem to know those swim caps intimately–not an experience I shared. I do remember the ones with big flowers. I am picturing a white cap with large splashy brightly colored flowers.

      Like

  8. Diana Stevan March 12, 2015 / 10:43 pm

    Lovely post. Reminded me of my time with my cousins on my uncle’s farm. Many happy memories. My mother and her brothers were immigrants, so there was such a commonality and many shared customs. I also checked out your cross stitch. My mother did a lot of that and I have many of her treasures that she’s left behind. Thanks for a trip down nostalgia lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 13, 2015 / 12:31 am

      Thanks for looking at my blog. Cross stitch is my favorite past time, although blogging seems to be taking over. I expect family ties were especially strong as immigrants for your mother and uncles. Growing up on a farm was a great experience although I probably did not appreciate it at the time.

      Like

  9. maggiepea March 14, 2015 / 10:31 pm

    Good Woman: I am on my phone and can’t comment the way I want to, in depth. We just got home from being gone for four days,it’s getting late and my eyes hurt. I’m going to link this to one of my grandparenting blog posts tomorrow when I’m on the computer. I have a short post on cousins, speaking of my grandkids as cousins from the different families. My youngest granddaughter actually wanted to be Pen Pals with me, which was so sweet! I gave her a box of Cat in The Hat note cards I had and all the cousins addresses so they can all start doing this.
    I have so much to say about your nostalgic post but can’t text it all out.
    Will write tomorrow but tonight will leave this quote I remember hearing somewhere and really stopped to think about it and how true it is.
    “Cousins: Our First Friends.”
    Isn’t that the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 16, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      What a wonderful idea to build up that cousin relationship for your grandkids. No doubt that some of my cousins were among my first friends, and probably the most enduring friendships.

      Like

  10. Life of Janine March 16, 2015 / 5:07 pm

    What a nice post! Growing up, I had 18 first cousins and we were very close to all those on my dad’s side. Now, as an adult, I discovered another three that I never knew about. Family secrets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Woman March 16, 2015 / 7:49 pm

      Intrigue. I hope you continue to be close to your cousins – the newly found ones as well as the original ones.

      Like

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