Family is All Relative––Part I

Wow! This year is a year of “family” for me––in all kinds of ways…the family I grew up with, and new people in my life, whom I call my “Biologicals.” You’ve heard a bit about them already. #familyisrelative #cousins

Last week, I visited with some of my cousins…ones I grew up with on Mom’s side of the family. The occasion was my Aunt Donna’s 95th, yes ninety-fifth birthday. I haven’t seen my Aunt Donna for twelve years, since my mom died. A few of my cousins were at Mom’s funeral in 2005, and a couple of them were there last weekend (the weekend of July 1-2). Aunt Donna has outlived every other Whitwam, she’s a very special and amazing woman. Two of the cousins present are not in the “official” photo – Eric Roembach and Joyce (Beard) Jackson. They were present at cousin Kim’s house on Saturday.

But there were cousins there I haven’t seen in forty to fifty years. Some of them have kids and grandkids I had never met.

One particular cousin and I bonded in a way we never had before. She’s seven years older than me, and we were never terribly close before, but we just “connected.” Kind of a surprise to both of us, but I’ve always loved Becca. When I discovered her daughter was coming, I was hoping Becca would be there, too. I figured she would be, and it set me to thinking about her.

Cousin Becca

The last time I’d seen her was in 1979, at our grandmother’s funeral. That’s a long time. Now, I live in Pennsylvania, and she lives in Texas. But we’re going to stay in touch, and we already have. We’re making plans to Skype this week.

I always felt I was a lucky grandkid to live in Newton, Kansas––especially after Grammy moved there to be closer to both my mom and Aunt Juanita. To keep an eye on her. I think she might have had a couple falls when she lived by herself in Wichita, so it was suggested she get a house close by us. She lived right down the street from my elementary school, less than half a mile away. Mom would visit her five-to-six days a week, with Aunt Juanita taking Grammy to church and dinner on Sundays.

I had many opportunities to see cousins and aunts/uncles over the years because they’d come to visit Grammy. It was wonderful and we were one big, pretty happy family. There are about twenty-four cousins on this side of the family.

So, when I saw my cousin Becca, whom I knew it had been such a long time––it filled my heart with joy. I was also happy to see my cousin Joyce.

But cousin Dan beat them all. (He is in the background of the picture of Becca). I don’t think I’d seen him in fifty years. He was quite a bit older than me, and moved to San Francisco during the flower child era in the late 60s. He eventually married, Fran, whom I had never met. When I saw Dan, I said, “I think it’s been close to fifty years!” And I introduced myself to Fran, who is a lovely person. His mother is my Aunt Donna.

When you think of your relatives, remember the precious times. #familyisrelative #cousins

2 Comments on “Family is All Relative––Part I”

  1. Hi Donna! I sure enjoyed your post about your extended family. It’s always so nourishing to our souls when we are able to connect with them. I attended a funeral recently in Southern California where I got to meet some 2nd & 3rd cousins whom I had never known before. They & their spouses & children were so sweet! Have a blessed summer!


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