I’m curious about cousins. Some are functional strangers who happen to be related. Sharing an ancestor doesn’t appear to be enough commonality to carry on a conversation.
But other cousins, upon meeting for the first time in decades, seem familiar, because they truly are family. They are kin and kindred.
It’s fun to discover family traits that travel through parallel generations. One cousin said her husband calls her relatives “human doings” because of their high energy and focus on activity. She quizzed Curt on his personality and came up with many matches; for example, she likes to read but only if all the work is done.
We heard and told many stories. Ah, the art of storytelling: the opening, timing, animation, interaction, enthusiasm, and the ability to stick the landing. It’s fun to listen to couples tag-team their history, one jumping in with color commentary, one handing off the narrative, at times both talking in stereo. And stories flowing downstream accrue more stories. There were goofy and crazy yarns, funny and unexpected outcomes. But the ones that found a home in my heart were the stories where the person opened up his/her life, pain and all, and didn’t mask the hurt.
I have a friend who has no cousins. No aunts or uncles. Her dad and mom were both the only child. Her family history goes straight up the branch like a poplar tree.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiral chains of knowledge
hidden in every cell of our bodies.
~ Shirley Abbott
The great gift of family life is
to be intimately acquainted with people
you might never even introduce yourself to,
had life not done it for you.
~ Kendall Hailey, The Day I Became an Autodidact
Call it a clan,
call it a network,
call it a tribe,
call it a family.
Whatever you call it,
whoever you are,
you need one.
~ Jane Howard
How many cousins do you have? Do you see them often? Ever? With what emotions do you anticipate family gatherings?