Passages – Cousins

crossMy cousin’s husband died.

I am the youngest of 50 cousins with the ages spanning 20 years. Many are gone. That comes with being the youngest. Outliving everyone comes with a price.

When I was young we all lived close. We saw each other frequently and got together for parties and picnics. It was a close family with a lot of shared fun.

As we got older, our worlds got smaller as cousins married, moved and had families of their own. I no longer saw many of my cousins, even those I was close to.

We still saw each other at weddings and celebrations.

Now we only see each other at funerals. My brother and I will go but we will be lucky if we see ten of the remaining cousins.

Some have health issues. Some have mobility and transportation issues. Some have already passed. Cousins are almost extinct in our family.

I remember the days of growing up when families were tight and close. Everyone watched out for everyone’s kids (and yelled at them when necessary). No one threatened to sue anyone even if they fell on their pavement. Absolutely no one threatened violence.

People are transient these days often living far from their roots. I don’t know if cousins bond as they used to. Soccer teams don’t make up for that family feeling.

Every family has their share of characters. Some were funny. Some were kid-oriented. Some were cooks extraordinaire. Some were party people and some were all about the booze.

The one who died was one of my favorites. He was a straight up guy. Lots of fun with no funny stuff (if you know what I mean).

He will be missed.


59 thoughts on “Passages – Cousins

  1. I’ve enjoyed hearing about your family through reunions and other stories you’ve shared. I can’t relate to such a large family, but I think you make the point best when you remind us that you’re one of 50! The loss of even one, favorite or not, is a significant loss to a family. I’m glad you shared with us, and I’m very sorry for the loss. Time marching on isn’t all smiles, that’s for sure. ox

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  2. You have definitely been rich in cousins over the years. I had eight first cousins, now only six. Every few years we have a family picnic. One cousin is the most insistent on planning picnics or stopping by and staying all night. Sometimes she can be annoying until I remember how much I appreciate her and the strong, long-lasting ties that bind us together.


    • Lucky you. There is no one in our cousin group that is dedicated to making that happen. At this funeral there were only four other cousins in attendance (that includes the wife of the deceased). Most of them are either gone or well over 75, most over 80. Being the youngest has both advantages and disadvantages.


  3. There were 12 cousins on my dad’s side. Our dads were all best friends, so we spent a great deal of time together. Lunch after church on Sunday, holidays, vacations. And yes, you’re right about being yelled at by a random relative and jumping to attention because they had as much authority as our parents.

    We rarely see our cousins now, but this past May a cousin happened to be in London at the same time we were. So we got together for an afternoon, and it was like being with a brother. So much shared history.

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  4. I am very sorry to hear about your loss, Kate. This is a very timely post as I just reconnected with two (out of a total of five) of my cousins. It is great reconnecting with family (and friends) that I had lost touch with after living so far away (Beijing) for so long (14 years). I am the eldest of my cousins so I am very happy to reconnect with them now.

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  5. I’m so sorry for your loss Kate. You’re right, watching your family get smaller each year is difficult. There too many goodbyes as we get older. Too many people list with whom we can no longer share our memories.
    How lucky you were to have such a large and caring family.

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  6. 50 cousins? That’s amazing! Sorry for the loss and the melancholy cloud. I and the second-youngest of my extended family, and so I can appreciate your thoughts about slowly becoming one of a few. All of my brood are still around, but we indeed all our spread around the country.

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  7. I grew up in a pretty small family – mother, father, two brothers and only one cousin (who lived on the other coast). My mother’s family, on the other hand is quite large and close. Most of them live within a few miles of each other in St. Louis, and I love to visit them when I can. Big families are a blessing (or a curse, in some cases) and you are lucky to have one. Unfortunately, loss is part of the messy package. I’m sorry for yours.

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  8. My sympathies, Kate. It sounds like he was a terrific guy.

    I’m the youngest of a far smaller number of cousins. All of them stayed in CT where I grew up, and I don’t see them nearly so often. My eldest cousin turns 80 two days before I turn 60 so there will be a big do which should be great fun.

    But like you said, outliving folks isn’t a goal. When the favorites aren’t around, life loses a lot.

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  9. What a rich childhood you had! 50 cousins!!!!! I simply can’t imagine it. I had zero first cousins, since neither of my uncles had children. I didn’t know what was in store for me when we began to have nieces and nephews. All but two lived in the same town we did, so our children knew their cousins very well. They all went to the same church and the same school. I loved watching the cousins interact. We not only saw them on a daily basis, we also celebrated holidays together. They were close, and they kept up with each other. Everyone has scattered now, but they connect with social media and occasionally call each other. I am so pleased they have this rich heritage.

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  10. I am sorry for your loss. I too remember when families were close and tight.
    Uncles and Aunts are now few and those that remain are in their late eighties or nineties. Sadly I would not know my cousins or even nephews/great nieces/great nephews if they knocked on my door as my family is very divided and not just by mileage.

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    • Over the past decades I haven’t seen much of him but we did celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary about 6 years ago. My brother (who is much older than I am) and I have this running contest on who is going to outlive who. Traditionally in my family the women outlive the men. To be honest, I don’t care. Outliving people isn’t one of my goals. Who will come to my funeral?

      Liked by 1 person

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