Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Cousins"

We talked about "the cousins" at Cousins Day and we wondered what all the other cousins were feeling at my mother's birthday party when it was announced that "the cousins" were going to be the back-up singers for the song that the kids wrote for my mother.

The thing is that I don't have two cousins...I have thirty-two cousins. This was a prolific family and a large one to begin with. My mother was one of eleven children (one of whom drowned in a creek at age 4, long before my mother was born). Most of the children had children. My oldest aunt Mel had a boy about my mother's age, who was killed crossing the street on the first day of school, while his mother watched from an apartment window. She never had any other children.

But that leaves all the rest of us!

My father didn't really like my mother's family very much, so I didn't spend much time around my Scott relatives. Peach and Kathy were the two that I knew best of all. Peach has a sister, Mandy, with whom I have never been close. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of conversations we've had in the past 60 years. She's a very private person and difficult to get to know.

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Peach, left; Mandy, right

Kathy has a brother, Patrick, and a sister, Kelly, whom I know better than Mandy, but as we have moved into adulthood, Patrick now lives in Arizona and Kelly lived in Nevada for a long time and now lives in the state of Washington.

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My aunt Betsy had several children, but we really only got to know Shirley, who was the oldest of the cousins I remember in my life as a kid (Shirley used to babysit for Karen and me). Shirley died a few years ago. She had several children too, most of whom are not that much younger than the three of us. Her daughters were the "D" girls--Debbie, Donna and Denise. Her sons I don't know at all and can't even remember their names! I know Donna better through Facebook than I do in person, and I know Debbie only very slightly. I see Denise more often than any of them, but not all that often and I don't really have much of a relationship with her.

At least one of the cousins has died and a couple have no relationship with the family whatsoever, for whatever bad blood exists that brought about the rift in the family.

That leaves all the rest, whom I may or may not have seen intermittently throughout my life, but if you count them all up, there are (or were) 32 of them, so for those who were at my mother's party, I'm wondering how they felt to have the three of us singled out as "the cousins." For what it's worth, we do feel somewhat guilty about that!

That the three of us developed this whole "cousins day" thing was pure serendipity and that it has grown into such a close-knit thing is a function of time and deepening trust. A lot of tears fell into a lot of glasses of booze. A lot of laughs and in-jokes spilled out over games of 65. And after more than two years, it's hard to think of adding others to our group, whether they are related or not.

It's like my mother's mah jong group. They have all played together for so long that when they invite someone else to join them, it completely changes the dynamic and isn't as much fun, so they've decided that when all four of them can no longer come to mah jong games, they will just stop playing.

I think that's how the four of us feel about Cousins Day. In fact, we sort of pledged it this morning. When one of us dies, or is no longer able to come to Cousins Day, we will just stop having it. It doesn't mean that it might not be replaced with something else, but Cousins Day dies with the first one of the four of us who dies--and we've made my mother promise to be the last one to die, because we need her house!!! :)

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