One wondrous surprise at Angie's funeral was that two of my cousins, A and S, showed up before the service. I hadn't seen them for decades, but I knew them immediately. They are younger than me by a bit--third cousins, if I've got that right.
My father's side of the family was very loose in describing blood relations. I called A and S's mother and father 'uncle and aunt' though, truth be known, Ralph was the son of my grandfather Bradley's sister. So, he was my second cousin in reality, but "uncle" in my father's family.
I had two Bradley cousins who were the children of my father's brother and my maternal grandmother's brother's daughter. We called each other "double first cousins". My mother's side of the family would have be more precise: Sarita and Greg were my "double first cousins once removed".
I had a huge family. Lots of Aunts and Uncles and a multitude of cousins.
And I've not 'kept up' the way I was taught to.
I'm a person who lives pretty much in the moment. I form relationships wherever I am rather than carry relationships with me.
We lived far away from 'family', so our children grew up with 'adopted family' that Bern and I gathered along the way.
If I have any regrets in my life--and the truth is I am a person with almost no regrets!--it is that I didn't keep in touch with family.
Anita and Suzanne showing up last Wednesday filled me with great joy and wonder as well as a feeling of deep loss that I hadn't 'kept in touch' with them or any of my family.
My cousin, Mejol, is the sole exception. I still see her from time to time and her two children and two grandsons, but only because they all live in Baltimore and on some trips to see Josh and Cathy and my granddaughters, I touch base with Mejol. But not nearly enough. We did go to Charleston, WV a couple of years ago to visit our Aunt Elsie and this year to her funeral. But not nearly enough.
Anita and Suzanne gave me a great gift--the knowledge that my 'family' is still there. But they also reminded me of my guilt at not 'being family' in a more active way.
I'm going to do my best to 'keep in touch' with Anita and Suzanne. I wrote letters to some of my Jones side cousins I saw at my Aunt's funeral. And I haven't heard back. But A and S are email folks...I think I can keep in touch with them.
I hope so.
I pray so.
What a deep joy that they showed up.
I am blessed. So blessed....
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