Monday, January 16, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #11

A Year of Gratitude #11: My Cousins

The last picture of all my cousins on my mom's side

My family is big and it's complex because my mom's sister Mary was married to my dad's brother Gene. They've been divorced for YEARS now, but for a while there, we shared almost all the same cousins. I saw almost because my mom's other siblings have kids (my cousins) that are not related at all to my dad's sister's children.

I think because my mom had sisters, we were ALWAYS with cousins. I don't know how my childhood would have been had she not had sisters and only had brothers. There's something to be said about women and the connections they make with their families.

Anyway, we grew up spending a great deal of time with my cousins. My Aunt Margie's kids (Brandon, Corey, and Derek) and then with my Aunt Mary's kids (Jessica and Mary- Megan came later and by then we weren't spending as much time with them).

I love my cousins and always had fun with them. They enriched my life and were like extended siblings. We didn't always get along, but we learned how to work out differences and how to play nicely together. 
Brandon, Jessica, Scott, Me, and Mary

When I was ten, I was introduced to a whole new set of cousins! They were my Aunt Karen's children and lived in Ohio. We saw them a lot for a while (before my Aunt passed away) but they were all older. My brother Dave really liked them because they were about his age, where as the cousins that I grew up with were all younger than him.
Aunt Karen's Kids: Ronnie, Tracie, Kevin, and Leroy

Then there's my dad's sister... she has three kids (Terri, Vicki, and Michael Ann) and I was always around Terri as a kid, and sometimes Vicki but not really Michael because she lived in New Mexico. Terri has a son named Nick and he is just a little bit younger than me, so while he was my second cousin, he was closer to my age than Terri was.

Vicki has two biological children (Justin and Jennifer) and then she recently adopted a little boy, but I've never met him in person. Justin and Jennifer are about the same age as Nick, but Vicki has always lived a bit away (still in MI or OH but a few hours away). I've always been closer to Terri than any of her sisters.

Michael Ann lives in New Mexico and has two daughters (Shannon and Ashley). One is in college and the other is about the graduate from high school (or she already has... not sure). I was never closer to Michael because of her living so far away, but I always liked her.

My Aunt Elene (in the front row in grey)'s family

I hope that Gus will be able to form memories with his cousins and have the kind of memories that I have of them when he gets older. We try to get back to MI every year a few times, so that we can see family. Dave tries to head to MI each year or every other year, and we'll be trying to coordinate so that we can be there at the same time. In the past it's been hard with my teaching schedule, but now that I'm retired (lol), it's going to be easier.

It's funny when cousins start having kids... and then those kids start having kids. A small little family of three kids grows so quickly! I think I should coordinate a family reunion so that everyone can get together and see each other! Maybe that'll be something I look into...

Anyway, I'm thankful for my cousins and the relationships that I have with each of them!!


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