We Are Family

22 Aug

Cousins
So, I come from a big family.  When I say big family, how big is that you might ask? Well, my Mom’s father had 13 brothers and sisters and my Dad’s mother also had 13 brothers and sisters.  Both families are Catholic and so there was a whole lot of procreating going on.   Something I’ve realized with age is just how much sex was happening in the past.  When you think of it – there is a very small window when a woman can get pregnant every month.  There were no ovulation tests or IPhone apps for tracking ovulation.  So, with no tracking they were able to get pregnant all the time.  This means they must have been doing it all the time in order to hit the bulls eye on such a regular basis.  Since there was no internet, no cable, no Sunday shopping, Facebook or yoga class to go to – our ancestors used sex as their main source of entertainment.  And through this entertainment came big old families!

I recently had a family reunion for my mothers side of the family – from my Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather there are currently 290 blood descendants (and counting).  That is correct.  From 2 people came 290 people.  Around 250 people attended the family reunion.  Not an optimal place for a single girl, but hey, it was a lot of fun.  The photo at the top is me with most of the great grandchildren who attended the reunion.  How crazy is it to be in a room with 249 people who are related to you and due to my mothers steadfast ability to keep in touch – I know most of them.   Growing up, a past time was visiting.  We had what I call ‘Country Cable’ – two channels which seldom had anything good on them.  Sunday there was Mass for Shut Ins, Grand Pre Wrestling and Coronation Street.  So instead of watching shit TV we would go visit a relative.  There was an open door policy at most houses.  We would just show up, interrupt whatever they were doing and have a visit which usually involved tea and some kind of baked good being put out for you to snack on.   Lots of conversation about politics, family going-on’s and of course stories from days gone by.  Can you imagine doing that now?  My flipping doorbell doesn’t even work!  Now anytime there is an unexpected knock or doorbell ring people assume it is Jehovah’s Witness recruiters and they suddenly become very still inside their homes.  For me, those visits impacted who I am – I loved hearing all the details, all the funny stories, all the opinions, and learning of all of the dynamics.  One thing about me is that I remember everything. I can recant visits from 25 years ago where someone was talking about someone jacking deer, someone growing magic mushrooms on someone’s property or that damn Chretien Government.  Birthday parties were just cousins.  Weddings were mainly family.

After university my cousin Amy and I moved to Toronto.   We chose Toronto as our cousin Alicia had moved up a year earlier and we were hungry to join in on all the fun she was having.  Amy and I shared a computer room with a futon for the summer. There was both a heat wave and a garbage strike that summer and we somehow survived.  Our other cousin Sarah also migrated up at some point.  She is double second cousins with Alicia, first cousin once removed with Amy and a standard second cousin with me.  That means that Alicia’s Mother and Sarah’s Grandmother are sisters AND Alicia’s Father and Sarah’s Grandfather are brothers.  That is right – two sisters married two brothers.  Since Alicia is the youngest in her family she is the same age as me even though she is my mothers first cousin.  Make sense?  See what I am saying about big family.   Amy’s Dad is my Mom’s uncle – her Dad is the youngest in the family of 14 and my Grandpa was the oldest boy.   So Amy is actually my Moms first cousin, but due to the fact that her Dad got married many years after my Grandpa – she is closer to my age.   Layers.  When we would go out it would inevitably come up that we were all related.  Most people were mystified that we could:

  1. All be related
  2. Know each other
  3. Like each other.

Most people would say something like ‘I have like 3 first cousins and I don’t really know any of them’.  There is something completely unique about being pals with your cousins.  You know where each other came from, you know their family, you know dynamics and you know their history.  You really know who they are and how they become who they are.  There is no need for small talk and you ultimately have each others backs.  And we were kind of like Disney World – there was something for everyone.  Tall, short, blonde, brunette, athletic, conservative, wild, shy and loud.  We are all different and have very different tastes in men, so we didn’t ever get out the gloves over them.  But when a man came onto the scene he was sniffed out hard by ‘the cousins’. Kind of like a litmus test for ‘is he bring him home to NS worthy’.  One guy had a terrible laugh.  Nope, we knew he wouldn’t work.  There was an old guy.  No, he didn’t stand a chance.  What do you think?  What do you think?  What do you think?  Everyone has an opinion.

I’ve traveled all over the world and let me tell you – I have family all over the world and my mother would make sure I reached out while there.   Most cities and countries have included a family visit or a connection with someone a family member knows.  Where I live it seems that I run into someone I am related to most days.  For example, today in hot yoga, one of my cousins was in my class.  We did a quick wave and smile before getting into our downward dogs.  In a world where connections are shallow, a sense of community has been lost and people don’t know their neighbours – it is a beautiful thing to run into someone you really know.  Connect with them.  Have a good chat.  Get some updates and usually have a laugh too.  You feel part of something.

A big family.  It gives you deep roots, a wide support system and plenty of gossip.  I dare you to get to know yours even if that means 3 people.

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2 Responses to “We Are Family”

  1. Lisa Hogan August 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Wish I could have experienced what you are describing..

    Lisa (Walschot) Hogan

  2. Sarah August 22, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    I agree!

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