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the joy of cousins

What’s so hard about travelling is that your whole schedule is disrupted.  What’s so valuable about travelling is that your whole schedule is disrupted.  

I’m in Washington, D.C.  It’s spring here – forsythia, magnolia, daffodils, redbud trees which are actually glowing mauve, miles of trees covered in lacy white, like rows of spidery wedding dresses – yes, Toronto, this will happen for us too, one day.  
I am getting to know some of my American family, and as always, what I want and encourage are stories.  Tell me stories.  Today, visiting my first cousin once removed, my father’s cousin Caryl, and her son Robert who’s my second cousin – no, why isn’t he my first cousin twice removed?  Or is that his children? 
Anyway, I met Robert for the first time and he made a matzoh ball soup to die for, and his mother Caryl who is beautiful and hospitable I also had never met – how often is someone from Toronto going to get to Roanoke, Virginia? And while I was there, we called Caryl’s first cousin Jerry in California and spoke to his wife Lee – Jerry was at work.  Lee and Jerry, who’s another of Jacob Gordin’s grandchildren, contacted me through my book.  None of these relatives had met or even talked before.
So after the visits, I was driving back from Roanoke to Washington with Caryl’s twin brother George whom I HAD met before but hardly knew.  He is, I discovered, an extremely interesting lawyer and law professor and world traveller who owns a Rodin sculpture and knows an enormous amount about history and also knew my long-dead father as a boy – stories, more stories.  And then the war, he was eighteen when he ended up a machine-gunner on the front line in France in 1944 and was wounded with shrapnel from a Screaming Mimi – talk about stories.  A more than four hour drive vanished.  A new dear friend.
And then back to Bethesda to Cousin Barbara’s on my mother’s not my father’s side, and over supper she told me about her mother’s recent death, my mother’s beloved oldest sister Margaret, and I told her about my father’s death, and we wept and ate and told stories.  
“You suffer,” my father’s brother my uncle Edgar once said to me, “from a paucity of cousins.” My only two cousins, Barbara and her sister Francie, have always lived in another country.  My father, whose mother had ten siblings and whose father had six, was drowning in cousins around the corner in New York.  But at least, at last, I am getting to know those I have, and the firsts once removed and the seconds too.  
Tomorrow we are going to see the famous cherry blossoms.  My schedule is happily disrupted. 



One response to “the joy of cousins”

  1. Unknown says:

    Beth–you really must learn to ask permission! GG

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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