Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sixteen Cousins in Four Decades

I woke up this morning thinking about my cousins on Mom's side of the family. That made me wonder if there is a Cousin's Day and if so, is it today? (There is, but it is July 24.) Then I thought about some of those cousin quotes like "Cousins are the first friends we have as children. No one understands your crazy family like cousins do." Probably a lot of truth in that one.
My favorite quote about cousins is this one: "Grandpa and Grandma's house: The place cousins go to become best friends." This little house of my maternal grandparents saw cousins getting together for Sunday dinners, Christmas dinners, birthday dinners, etc., for half a century. So many wonderful memories this photo invokes.
The sixteen cousins began coming in the late 30's with most being born during the 40's after these three sisters got married to these three guys. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Howard in the middle were the first to have sons Larry Joe in 1937 and Glen Edward in 1939. Then Ruth and Louis on the right had my brother Ronald Earl in 1940 the day after Aunt Evelyn gave birth to their first daughter, Lila Mae. 1942 saw Aunt Lois and Uncle Alvin on the left having their first son, Gary Alvin and Aunt Evelyn & Uncle Howard having a second daughter Glenna Mae.
1943 was a big year for Mom and Dad -I was born, Ramona Irene. And Aunt Lois and Uncle Alvin had a second son, Lloyd Allen. Janet Kay was born to Aunt Evelyn in '44 and Betty Ruth to Mom & Dad in '45. Two more girl cousins were born in '48 - Ronda Lou to Aunt Lois and Mary Lou to Aunt Evelyn. Those two were the last born in the second decade of cousins. Aunt Lois and Uncle Alvin had Darol Dean in '51 and Monica Sue in '54 - the same year my little brother, Leslie Louis was born. Only one to go and one decade to be represented: Joseph Lee was born in 1960 (about six weeks after his Grandpa Joe died) to Aunt Lois and Uncle Alvin.

Just as there are sibling rivalries, there were also some rivalries among the cousins. And even though our grandparents were good about treating us all equally, everyone knew their first grandchild, Larry Joe, was their favorite - at least Grandma's favorite, not sure about Grandpa. Fourteen of the sixteen are still living. Betty died in '73 at the age of 28 and Larry died in 2004 at the age of 66.

If I tried, I might be able to name all the children of these cousins, but that isn't my intent. I just want to acknowledge and remember the sixteen of us and how much fun we had growing up together - especially those of us born between '37 and '45. The last time most of us were together was at Aunt Lois' funeral in 2009 which is about the only occasion we do see one another anymore.
Cousins play together, dream together, scheme together. They are bound together by the love of a family. They know the family secrets and tell the best family stories. I am so lucky I was born when I was and grew up with these first friends - my cousins.

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