(My cousin Linda, probably 3, on the right, and me on the left, probably 5)
Family histories can be pretty spotty. Mine certainly is, especially on my father's side. There were few pictures and few memories, because contact with my paternal extended family was limited to years very early on. By my teen years, I don't remember any contacts.
Memories fade some over long periods of time, but the knowledge that my paternal cousins existed always floated in the back of my brain.
The image of my cousin Linda's face in this picture below is one of the many memories I have of her from childhood. In fact, this is exactly how I remember her ... sort of serious and focused, but just below the surface there is the hint of a smile. I totally love this picture of us in the center holding hands. We were family and friends back then ... but as our families drifted apart we were left with just our childhood memories.
(From left to right: Linda's cousin, Susan, me, Linda and my cousin Ray, Linda's brother.)
Fast forward to the present. We are grown ... seniors actually. And most of our lives have been lived apart. So much time had passed.
One day my sister got restless at work and Googled our maiden name. Our name was unusual. And at the top of the list popped Linda's name. She was married now but had kept her maiden name (Thank God!).
After much excitement and tons of emails and pictures back and forth, we decided to get together ... after 40 years of absence! The year I believe is 2004.
(from left to right: Aunt Phebe, my mom, my sister, my cousin Leslie,
me and my cousin Linda)
This joy filled picture is the result of the 40 year absence. Linda and I (far right) are together again (I bet we are holding hands behind us.) And my sister and Leslie are an addition to the family: neither had been born at the time of the first 2 pictures. Since that 2004 picture was taken, we have remained close seeing each other several times a year, sharing lives and hobbies and love. It is one of the most wonderful experiences of my whole life.
My childhood memories of my dear Aunt Phebe are clear: she was a loving, affectionate person with a ready smile. I miss her now as she died several years ago, but we had our moment before life took us in different directions again. She is now at peace, and I still have the wonderful relationships of my cousins.
One last picture I must share.
(Here are my Aunt Phebe and Mom walking the beach together ... holding hands.)
This picture makes me happy and sad at the same time.
It makes me happy to see them together happy after such a long absence, just like me and Linda. My mom remembers Phebe as her friend, married to brothers, and young and happy at that time.
But I am sad my Aunt Phebe has passed on and my mom has lost her ability to walk unaided as she does in the picture. Her health is fragile and her memories are fading.
Time just marches on.
So I am forever grateful for the miracle of my cousins!