#LoIsInDaBl Day 19: A Whole Lotta Cousins!

Put a Little Love in Yours!
Put a Little Love in Yours!

Here’s an interesting tidbit about me. On my father’s side, I have 32 first cousins. Yes, that’s right. My grandparents had six children. Between them, they produced 36 grandchildren – me, and my three siblings, and thirty -two others.

What’s this have to do with anything? Well, today at Love Is In Da Blog, Bee prompts us to write about aunts, uncles, and/or cousins.

Most of these cousins are older than me – my father was the fifth of those six children, and his oldest sibling, my Uncle Leo (a former firefighter, and a lot nicer and more fun than Jerry’s Uncle Leo on Seinfeld), is twelve years older. The effect was that Uncle Leo’s youngest child was the age of my older brother, eldest in our family. I barely knew one of the older children until I was a teenager. I played with several second cousins just a few years younger than me.

Most of my cousins grew up far away – many in South Carolina, some in Virginia. I saw them on occasion, growing up, for days at a time, so I knew them well enough to carry on conversations and play with, but not well enough to ever feel – well, casual, I guess – around them.

But we had a helper, in my Grandpa Foster.

For all of our childhoods, Grandpa would take Super Eight silent films as he traveled from family to family, with my grandma until she died when I was nine, and then alone. The main attraction, when he came to have dinner with us, was to have his movie screen set up in the living room after we ate, and it was dark enough for the movies. We’d watch the films as he ran the projector, and it was a huge honor to be asked to be his assistant.

We’d watch the movies of our cousins living their lives, showing off new toys, new skills, new clothes, new teeth…sharing their favorite things. There’d be new movies and old favorites. They’d be spooled together, their families merging with ours, hodgepodge, the way sprawling families get all tangled up together. And, because I saw bits and pieces of their lives in this way, and because my grandfather almost always narrated, I felt that I knew them.

Other times, he’d bring the camera, and something upon which to write the date, and he’d film our lives-of-the-moment, and I could imagine my cousins somewhere far away, watching the movies when it was their turn.

There was an air of magic and mystery to the whole process.

Decades have passed since my grandfather died in 1987, the same year I graduated. Many of my cousins were already adults by then, living their own lives, and, as time passed, we gradually lost touch without the cohesive force he had provided –

The Internet has reconnected me with several of my cousins. It’s a little like those old movies. I get to peek into bits of their everyday lives. I get to know them in a new way. But, this time, they have control of what they share….

And I can share what I want of my life, too…

I think my Grandpa would be very happy about that. =)

Looking for more Love Is In Da Blog? Find it right here! 

Me, as a baby. Photo supplied by my cousin Heather, who lives in Virginia, via Faebook.

6 comments

  1. That’s pretty neat! I have a lot of cousins, too. I don’t think 32. Let me count. (16 – HALF!) I’m at the tail-end of the big side, so myself and the youngest missed out on a lot of experiences the older cousins had as a group, but I had plenty of time alone with my grandparents, and that sure felt special 🙂

    • That’s still a lot of cousins. I spent a lot more time with the four who remained in NY, and the second cousins who were the children of older cousins.

      Never knew it was a lot until I was grown!

  2. How lucky you are! I always wished for big ol’ batch of cousins to be close with–probably from reading too many Louisa May Alcott books. But I only have 2 first ones, from the second wife of an uncle who’s now on his fourth, and they were taken away to Hawaii for raising, so I never saw them. Doing the best I can now to befriend them, as well as gluing my family back with some long-lost second cousins. Your situation still seems ideal to my eyes.

    • Well, most of them lived far away, but it was an impressive array. I cant begin to keep track of all the second and third cousins that have been born – it’s downright dizzying!

  3. Your grandpa sounds like a great guy.

    I had cousins who were so much older than me that I called them Aunt and their children were my cousins. I didn’t realize it until I was much older.

    This was a great read, Shan. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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