Yes, we’ve all seen the meme posted on Facebook: “Cousins are awesome. Well, mine are. I can’t speak for yours.” I know I for one have posted, re-posted, and posted it again, because I really mean it! I’ve also had to post, repost, and post again, because any time a new cousin joins social media, I feel like they also need to feel the love. It also doesn’t help, that I have 26 first cousins. Yes, you read that right: 26. My maternal grandmother is still alive and mostly healthy and has not only grandchildren, but great-grandchildren AND great-great grandchildren. In total, I think there are 56 of us. Believe me, I know, it’s a lot to take in. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “That is crazy! I have ___ (that I haven’t seen in years) and that’s counting both sides!” Well, if you think that’s crazy, consider this: we were all (minus 3 in CO) raised within an hour of each other. That means most of the time we all spent the holidays, birthdays, etc together. All at one house. Is your head spinning yet?? Haha! You also may have noticed that I never mention a ‘grandpa’, but that’s because I didn’t have one. Both of my grandma’s were strong, kind, loving and SINGLE mothers. They have both played major roles in my life and deserve their own stories, which I promise, I will eventually write. Today however, I’ve decided to dedicate this entry to “The Original 26”.
While some might think growing up with 26 cousins would be overwhelming, I wouldn’t want it any other way. The ages of us all span from apx 45-15 years old, so most of us have some cousins that we are closer to than others. In 1981, there were actually 5 of us born within 4 months of each other. When we graduated high school, we had a picture taken of all of us that matches the same one our parents took of us 18 years earlier. I come from a small town south of Albuquerque, where people only seem to know you as “so and so’s” daughter, niece, etc. Very seldom do they remember your given name. Growing up, I was always known as “J’s baby cousin”. He’s only 5 days older than me, but he always acted like it was 5 years. Not that I minded though… he always watched out for me and had the cutest cowboy friends.
If you ask any of the cousins, they will tell you I was a total tomboy growing up. I chased the girls with dead crawdads from the ditch, I rode (more like held on for dear life) stinky sheep in the corrals, made forts with the bales of dry alfalfa. Funny, even as I type the word alfalfa, I take a deep breath and hold it in for a few seconds. To me, it is still one of the most comforting smells around. It’s hard to explain, but to me it smells simply like earth… a mixtureof dirt, water, oxygen and sunshine. It’s as organic as it gets and we had the privledge of building forts, mazes, classrooms, jails, and bakeries with it all summer long.
As we’ve gotten older, it’s true that most of us are not as close as we once were. Most of us have kids, most all of us have or have had a spouse or partner. We have school, careers and in laws to consider. We will text once in awhile, Snapchat if we’re lucky and like each others posts on FB, if your still into that.
You get us all together, it’s like we’re still little kids getting to see our best cousins! Everyone tells stories and the laughter is contagious. We talk about the time “Sunshine” got home and chased cows until 1am after drinking margaritas with me since 1pm. I couldn’t help, because I was at my other aunties, sound asleep…. in a Lightning McQueen car bed. Not my proudest moment, but it makes for a good cousin story. Or the time we were “attacked by a huge pack of dogs”, only to realize (after about half of a mile “running for our lives”) that the only dog that actually got through the rusty chainlink fence was a single mutt chihuahua. We remince about the 3 cousins we’ve lost much too young and wonder where they would be today. I remind Amanda about her always perfectly white Keds… when she was mad, she would cross her arms, tap her right toe and give you the death stare until you gave in. It used to drive me insane, but now it’s one of my very favorite memories. She has 2 baby girls now…. I cannot wait to buy them their 1st pairs!! 💕
Then finally, without fail, someone will bring up my 2nd grade school picture. Somehow that one still takes the cake. Hey, I was only 8 years old!! Who allowed me to get that ugly perm anyway?! I’m actually laughing out loud as I think about it. Cousins, our time together is always too short, but in those rare moments when we are all together, it’s impossible not to feel blessed, loved, supported and remembered. Always remember… cousins are not just cousins. We are built in best friends for life.
“Alek (7), if you let me have that, I’ll be your best friend… Dilly (7), I’m already your cousin, so that means you’ll always be my best friend.”