So early in our family we were linked with another cousin. My family seemed to multiply in pairs and sometimes threes. Each of us on my mom's side has a cousin that is within a year or so in age. It's freaky and makes me think things I don't want to think about when it comes to family. lol. So here is two examples. Julio is the blonde kid on the left and Gretchen is the girl on the right. They are a little over a year apart. Then there is me next to Julio and my cousin Jason to the right of me. We were born about a week apart, one in New Jersey and me in Ohio.
Growing up our cousins were our friends, it's not to say we didn't all have friends outside of the family but our family used to get together a lot so it was always nice to be able to have your cousin by your side to play with. Jason and I were as close as we could be with so many miles between us, what helped in my case is that my cousin Andy who I've spoken about on here before was born less than a year later. When we were in Jersey or they were in Ohio it was always the three of us. We have many pictures together, some of which I'm sure will appear here as I get through these stacks of pictures.
Our families have always been close, we would celebrate each kids birthday with a family birthday party at who evers house, we would get together for nearly every holiday as most families, and sometimes we would just randomly gather. They are some of my favorite memories, all of us together. The older we got and the larger we grew the harder it became for everyone to gather under one roof, somehow we still manage, but these days it's so very rare to get everyone under the same roof at the same time. I don't think that has happened in nearly ten years. Grandma had hoped that when grandpa died it would happen, but sadly not everyone was able to make it back, even for her 80th birthday we were not all able to make it back. I made the funeral because I was able to, but I missed her birthday.
My cousins have spread themselves pretty far, there is still a vast majority of them living in and around Nappy, but I still have a cousin in Jersey, one in Cleveland, one just moved to Iowa, a few in Columbus, etc. It's been interesting to watch us all grow up into adults and see how the relationships change. Even amongst my aunts and uncles it seems to have changed, everyone ages and grows differently. They/ we all love each other but personalities were formed and some clash now. It seems the old we have all gotten the more we have started to separate into our own family units. I think much of this is how little time everyone gets to spend together with their own families and so we stick together in the large group to our own smaller groups.
I'm very thankful for this large family growing up and to be honest there are several members of this family I didn't grow to appreciate until I was an adult and I could actually see and respect them for more than just being an aunt or an uncle, but as a human being and a christian. They are all pretty amazing people, each with their own quirks, but if you know what they are and accept them for what/who they are, the relationship can continue to grow.
Good families are a pretty amazing thing, always there when you need them, and always there even if you don't need them. We have always been there to support one another, attend events that others are participating in, and just there to watch each other grow. Next year the last of my first cousins will be graduating, all 20 of us will be over the age of 18 and that's so weird to me, it's even stranger to watch the next generation begin to come around, there are now 6 great grandchildren. It's weird that I never imagined us all growing old and having children of our own, I don't know why, it just seemed to happen over night.
9 weddings for 8 grand children (my brother hogged two of those), 3 divorces (for 2 children, once again Julio hogging 2 of those), 6 next generation children, it just goes on and on. While I really love the people that my family have brought to the table (with the exception of Julio's first wife) and I love their children, I miss the simplicity of the old days. Of monthly gatherings with my extended family and the laughter we all shared over the years. It's still there, it's just not as simple as it used to be.
But then again, what is?