The Cousins

When I think about 'The Cousins', I usually think about my wife's brother's three daughters. They are about the same age as my daughter and are the cousins that she sees most frequently. She has other cousins, but doesn't see them so often. We've also talked about first cousins once removed, second cousins and other variations.

Yet today, I was thinking about a different set of cousins; my mothers nieces and nephews. Back in October, my mother died. She was the youngest amongst her siblings and was the last to go. The sons and daughters of Vivian and Dorothy have all passed away. Now, the next generation needs to find ways to stay together.

When my mother died, we learned that my cousin Linda was quite ill. Last week, she passed away, and today we gathered to pay our last respects. The reception after the funeral was the same community club where we had gathered about eight years earlier when Linda's mother had passed away.

With my mother being the youngest in her family, my sister and I are the youngest of the cousins. Linda was ten years older than I and so there wasn't the same sort of connection that Fiona has with her cousins. I remember the trips to Uncle Bud's house when I was young. They had big black labradors and a snow mobile. It wasn't until family reunions much later that I started to get to know Linda better. Much of our connection was around dogs. In her final years, she had a spectacular silver labrador named Lucky; they were lucky to have each other.

At the reception, the cousins were more reflective, reminiscent. We talked about family history and genealogy. We remembered tidbits from family gatherings and artifacts from our childhoods together that still hold special meaning.

There were jokes about having to stop meeting like this (at funerals), references to Harold and Maude, and promises to get together soon. Perhaps most important was the recognition that there is something more that shared ancestry or DNA that makes us cousins.

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