This weekend I'm going on a road trip with my cousin Mejol.
For years, I was the youngest of 15 first cousins on my mother's side of the family. There were my 8 Jones cousins (children of my mother's brother, Granger and his wife, Elsie), 4 Pugh cousins (children of my mother's sister, Juanette and her husband Lee Pugh), 2 Perkins cousins (children of my mother's sister Georgie and her husband Jim Perkins). And then there was me.
I was in my teens when my mother's sister, Elise (another Elsie) and her husband, Rev, Harvey Ours, adopted my cousin Denise who was 5 or so years younger than me. So, I became the second youngest of 16 first cousins.
Being an only child, my cousins were my older siblings in a real way--just I didn't have to live in the same house as them.
Mejol and Gail Pugh were baby-sitters for me. The others were role-models. Six of the 16 are dead now. But Jan/Ann are turning 80 on Saturday.
Jan and Ann Jones were twins and I couldn't tell them apart as a child so I called which ever one was around "Jan/Ann".
The last road trip Mejol and I took was to my last aunt or uncle--Elsie's, Denise's mother--funeral in Charleston. Mejol lives in Baltimore so I went there, spent the night and then we drove to Charleston and spent a night there before driving back to Baltimore.
Jan/Ann's birthday party is in Elliston, Virginia--a dozen miles east of Roanoke.
I hope all my living cousins are there. Some of them I haven't seen in decades.
Mejol lives farther north than any of them. I have lived in Connecticut for 38 years. There is a Jones family reunion every year or so, but always far away and on Saturday and I work on Sundays, so I've never made it to one.
I'm really looking forward to it--especially 4 hours down from Baltimore and 4 hours back with Mejol. She's the one cousin who's always been in my life.
It will be a trip full of nostalgia and memory.
I can hardly wait.
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