It dawned on me that on my mother’s side of the family, she is the only one standing between me and becoming the oldest surviving member of the family! That is a heavy responsibility. I had mentioned this to a friend who nodded in understanding. Seems when her mother died, the family fractured. No one organized holiday celebrations. There were no more family reunions. No effort was put into staying in contact with Aunts and Uncles and the cousins were flung far and wide.
On my father’s side I am the 3rd in line as I have 2 older cousins. Sadly we are somewhat distanced, even though three of the four have relocated back to their hometown (which is where Sparky and I have lived since 1991). The eldest is living in Israel. The time zone, her Orthodoxy, and the cultural differences create an almost insurmountable barrier to family get togethers. It has been about 7 years since I last saw her in person. It was a treat to get to watch a video of her being interviewed on Around the Shabbos Table (the Intentional Jew network).
The other 3 cousins in town are busy with their own lives. The 2nd oldest retired from the USPS and is very involved with being a grandparent. The cousin my age had been living in Texas, came back, went back to Texas, and then returned again. I’m not sure what she is up to as she has not spoken to me and I have no idea why. The youngest cousin was a flight attendant for many years based out of Dallas, TX. After he retired he moved back but soon took a job in Chicago. Now he’s back in town too. I ran into him at the grocery just before the pandemic. Of course with the restrictions I haven’t seen any of them.
My mother was an only child therefore I had no first cousins on that side. My father had only a sister (and she was his twin) so I have only 4 first cousins in total. Sparky’s mom was one of 8. He and his 5 siblings have so many cousins that he literally doesn’t know all their names! I guess what I’m talking about is connectedness. There are these thin silvery lines made of spider silk memories that connect families. The remembrances keep the family together. I worry that my sons and their cousins may not have the stories and experiences to bind their histories to each other or to the larger family…