Cousins

My (older) cousin Ann mentioned that she was enjoying reading my blog, and it got me thinking of my family, and of the memories I have of when we were younger. Ann and I have really only got to know each other since we’ve grown up. I feel sure that if we’d lived close to each other as children, we would have been friends. Her father was my mother’s brother. They were a large family, ten children of sixteen, surviving infancy. I think the fact that my brother Les is named after Ann’s dad tells you that Uncle Les was very much loved in our family. When he was very ill at the end, I travelled from the south coast to County Durham to visit him in hospital. He was in a side ward, sitting up in bed, still smiling. They brought him his dinner. I have this lovely picture in my head of him picking up a little disposable vomit pot and putting it on his head. …he said it was to stop his hair dropping out into his dinner! I have to say it did look like a hat, with a little brim.

After he died, Ann’s mum went to say with my parents in Suffolk for a week. They said they really enjoyed having her to stay. I think they got to know her better in that week than they ever had before. I don’t think they did a lot, pub lunches and some drives out, but it must have been so different from her life in a town. They lived in a village that was so tiny the doctors surgery was in someone’s front room twice a week. Their house was on farmland surrounded on all sides by fields full of crops. Very quiet, very flat, very beautiful.

Ann and I have another cousin, Kathleen. We didn’t see much of her either, as she lives in Scotland, but again, as adults, we have seen more of each other, though not enough. The family stories about Kathleen’s mother are legendary, and mostly very funny. She was a wonderful cook, and a great joker. Once she left me in her kitchen, where I’d been “helping” her to bake. I was about four or five at the time. She told me to keep an eye on everything whilst she went to the toilet. After a couple of minutes, there was a knock on the door, and I was confronted by an old tramp asking for a glass of water. I invited him in and, knowing how nice my Aunty Cis was, said “You can have one of my Auntie’s cakes and a cup of tea if you want”. I don’t know how many years it was before I discovered it was Auntie Cis with a stocking over her head, wearing an old black coat and a man’s hat!

My Grandchildren all live in different parts of the country, so for some of them, it’s difficult to see their cousins often. When they do see each other they really enjoy each others company. My own children were in the same position but I know that on the occasions they see their cousins, they are very happy to see each other. And Facebook has brought us all together. I enjoy reading about what is happening in my family, even if I can’t see them as often as I’d like.

And the contact with my cousins is growing and developing even now, mainly through Facebook. This year I hope to meet two cousins on my father’s side of the family, Trudy and Lesley. It’s weird that despite us not knowing about each other until relatively recently, there is a very definite family feeling, or connection, an interest in the things that are happening in their lives, and a concern for them when things are difficult. I’m very much looking forward to making our family connection a personal one.

I’d like to think that future generations of my family will know their extended family better than I know mine, perhaps they will have the chance to live closer to each other than we have, but if they don’t, I suppose there will always be Facebook!

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