My mother had two brothers. Her older brother had two sons, but they lived almost 600 miles away; and we saw them infrequently. Her younger brother always lived only an hour or two from us and had three boys and a girl. We were blessed to live close enough to these cousins to see them often.
Cousin Bill was about six months younger than Phil, and Cousin Steve was just a month older than I. The closeness in our ages and the frequency of our association, built close cousin relationships between us. With Bill and Phil, the relationship went beyond the role of cousins and grew to deep friendship.
Cousin Bill in the arms of his parents.
Cousin Bill on the left, Phil on the right
Cousin Steve on the left, Cousin Bill on the right
As Bill and Phil grew up, the strength of their friendship continued to grow. They both married young, and their children were spaced much like we cousins had been. Bill's Jeff came first, with Phil's Beckie following just four months later.
Bill recently sent me the following photos, from January of 1964.
Phil with Bill's 1963 BMW Motorcycle
Jeff and Beckie, continuing the cousin tradition
Cousin Bill trying to turn Jeff and Beckie into Kissing Cousins
Unfortunately, Bill's and Phil's relationship came to an end when Phil died in an auto accident at the age of 25. Bill's own brother, Steve, was to die in similar fashion not quite eight years later. The loss of our brothers drew Bill and me closer, and he continues to be a special guy in my life. We don't see each other often, but we keep in touch through e-mail.
Extended families are important. If you have cousins, I hope you treasure them. They're the next best thing to siblings. And sometimes they're friends.