Monday, July 25, 2011

The Branches in our Family Tree

I've always been very proud of my family. There's of course the family I have with my husband and our three children, but I'm also thinking of the family I grew up with and the family I married into. Then there is the family my Dad grew up with and the family my Mom grew up with. All in all, let me just say, I am extremely proud of the various branches of my family tree.

Several years ago my cousin Cathy and her husband Steve left their home in Pennsylvania to move to my neck of the woods with their two young children. Cathy had long vacationed in Maine and her husband had always loved the woods and they wanted to raise their children here. I was so overjoyed at the thought of my favorite cousin moving closer! Cathy and I are close in age and when we were kids, we'd see each other about once a year. Many of our visits were at my camp where my four siblings and her three siblings would all gather for boat rides, swimming, and late night card games. Cathy had very blonde hair like I did and being just a bit older than me, I thought she was so fabulous. And that Pennsylvania accent of hers was very cool too.

Her older sister Denise would hang out with my older brothers mostly, so I did not really get to know her until we grew older. But back in 1996 my family hosted a huge family reunion and I got the chance to meet her daughter and got to know Denise better. The next year we drove to Pennsylvania to visit Denise and we took our children to the Philadelphia Zoo. The next day we took her daughter with us to Sesame Street Place. It was a fun trip.

In the years since, we've done our best to get together with her when she comes to Maine to visit Cathy. Some years we manage to have a beach day together. This morning when I woke up I received a text from my cousin Cathy. She told me her sister was in town and asked if we could get together. Knowing we had to work today, we quickly invited them over for a barb-b-que tonight. Over hot dogs and hamburgers, pasta salad, and addictive taco dip, we quickly caught up with one another. The kids all enjoyed the puppy and we adults had a fun time laughing over various adventures and other recent happenings. Although we see Denise maybe once a year, if that often, we always easily slip back into comfortable conversations and fun teasing. And despite our living in the same town as Cathy, with our children so busy with their activities, it's always a joy to get together every few months or so to reconnect.

Spending time with these two cousins of mine, two women who have always been in my life and their most likeable children, who are as open, loving, fun, and as full of sweet smiles as their mothers, is always special and fun for me and my family. Our children all genuinely enjoy one another. We all love one another. That is obvious.

My mother and their father are brother and sister, the only two children of our mutual Nana and Pepere. At one point tonight, Denise and I stepped outside together to tend to my puppy. We started talking about our aging parents and it was incredibly comforting to both of us to know we are both going through this phase of life together. With Cathy, Denise, and I, there is a connection between us that is strong through blood, but there's also a simple appreciation and respect for one another that comes naturally. Those are the best cousin relationships, the best bonds within a family. However infrequently we get together, those are the branches in a family tree that make me most proud.

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