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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cousins and Friends

Because my dad was raised by his maternal grandparents, his "siblings" were his aunts and uncles, mostly quite a bit older than he. The two aunts closest to him in age never had children, so he had no brothers or sisters to provide cousins for me and my brother, Phil. My dad's dad had brothers; but, because Dad lived with his deceased mother's parents, he was never close with his father's side of the family.

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.

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Cousin Bill in the arms of his parents.

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Cousin Bill

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Cousin Bill on the left, Phil on the right

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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 motorcycle2
Phil with Bill's 1963 BMW Motorcycle

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Jeff and Beckie, continuing the cousin tradition

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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.

10 comments:

  1. Family is certainly important. I have one sibling, an older brother who I haven't spoken to in years. He became ludicrously rich and decided it wasn't a good idea to associate with me or my family anymore. He did the same with our parents. Four years ago I buried our father alone. I'm glad you are in close contact with your cousin.

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  2. Lovely post, and it really hits home. I have both a Cousin Jeff and a Cousin Becky. I'm off to catch up with them NOW.

    THANK YOU.

    (And I love the photos you provide!)

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  3. Stephen - I'm so sorry to hear about the estrangement between your brother and the rest of the family. So sad. There just are no winners in a situation like that. I'm glad you and your parents remained close.

    Ethelmae - I love that this glimpse of my Jeff and Beckie led you to rush off to catch up with your Jeff and Becky. Thanks for the sweet comment.

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  4. What great pictures! Definitely something to be treasured. I've never been close with the few cousins I do have, but Eddie has always been like siblings with his. Something I hope we cultivate in the future when we have kids some day.

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  5. Neat pictures and family story, Linda. I don't have much family left --but do have some cousins that are important to me. Family is important ---and until there is no one left, sometimes we don't realize how important family really is...

    We are home from our 2nd trip is a month--and both of us have colds.. Yuk! Guess it will be REST for this upcoming week for both of us.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  6. Elizabeth - Thanks for the comment. I hope you are able to help your kids get to know their cousins when that day comes. I'm sure Eddie can vouch for the benefits of that.

    Betsy - You're certainly right about family growing in importance as members are lost. It's something we don't think much about when we're younger. Hope you and George are on the mend.

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  7. Your family has endured some tough losses. I'm sorry for that.

    I am indeed very close to a few of my cousins. We were all born in Montreal but many of us have ended up reasonably close (geographically) to one another in Ontario - two of them just a few minutes from me.

    Now that our kids have grown and we no longer have countless birthday parties through the year, we make a point of getting together a couple of times a year for a Cuzzie lunch at one home or another, or at a restaurant halfway between the two farthest locations. We're more like sisters. Usually it's my sister, 3 of the cousins and I. Spouses are not invited.

    Family is SO important.

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  8. Hilary - Yes, it's true that there have been some difficult losses through the years. But, as I've grown older, I've come to realize that tragedy comes in some form to virtually every family. No one is immune. And the trials endured by others often serve to make me feel blessed.

    Thanks for sharing about your cousins. I'm glad you have some to treasure.

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  9. What a nice tribute to your cousin Bill, Linda. I'm so sorry that you have now lost him too. But I'm sure you have great memories of him to treasure.

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  10. this was so sweet. you've endured some losses together. and i'm sorry you've now lost him...

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