Thursday, February 21, 2008

My cousins

I thought I'd write today about my cousins. I have many many cousins and I am close to most of them. My mother was the eldest of 9 children, my father the middle of 5 children. Each of my aunts and uncles have had at least 4 children. My mother also had 4. I have one aunt that has had 15 kids (I think, but maybe it's 14) and an uncle with about the same. My aunt had 2 sets of fraternal twins. Most of my aunts have had about 6 children. When my grandmother died last year we did a family count which amounted to (I think) 76 grandchildren and 65 great-grandchildren. Of those grandchildren, only one of them has passed on and that was my older brother, John. He died of cancer at the age of 7. It was a neuroblastoma on his kidney. Of the great-grandchildren only one of them has passed and it was my niece, Halie. She died in a fire about 2 years ago.

Now, of those 76 grandchildren, I am the 5th eldest if you count my brother John. I grew up spending a lot of time with many of my cousins from the older batch. I started babysitting the younger batches at the age of 8, though I remember changing my cousins' diapers when I was just about 5. Anyway, I feel very close to most of my cousins and I miss them terribly at times. When our family goes through bad things, or good things, I know my cousins are there with love and support.

On my dad's side (the 76+ is on my mom's side), I think there are about 20-25 first cousins and I have no idea how many kids they all have. I grew up much closer to my mom's side of the family even though my dad's relatives lived closer (some just up the street). Sadly, my dad's family has had more than their fair share of family fights and estrangements (not that nobody is blameless in that). Last June, Dave and I went to Utah for a family party with that side - the first one in at least 20 years! I haven't seen many of my cousins on that side in about that long, or at least since my grandfather's funeral in 1993.

My cousins are very important friends of mine. That's one of the heartaches of dealing with 1) how long it took to meet, fall in love with, and marry Dave and 2) how long it took to conceive. My children will be a lot younger than all of their cousins. My youngest niece/nephew is 8 years old now and the oldest will be 16 when this baby is born. My children will be missing out on that kind of closeness in their childhood. I may not even be able to provide this current child with siblings. That makes me kind of sad. Fortunately, I have good friends with young children. I hope our kids can all sort of form that bond like I had with my cousins.

I have 2 cousins that require extra love and prayers right now. They are on my mind daily and I pray for them often. One of them, Jimmy, was part of the just a bit younger than me group of cousins. I spent a lot of time at his parents house when my parents were traveling. Jimmy has a wonderful family now and beautiful children - and he has cancer. It started in his knee but it has metastasized and he is fighting it bravely. He's been fighting this battle for over a year now.

The other cousin is Ashley. Ashley is in her early twenties and has two little children that both need extra love and prayers. Kelsi was born with a congenital heart defect and has had to undergo several surgeries on her heart. She had a pacemaker implanted last fall and around that time, Ashley learned that her other child had cancer. Little Cohen has a neuroblastoma near his liver and kidneys. Kelsi's pacemaker is working great and her recent surgeries have so far proven to be a success, but she still needs prayers. It's likely she'll need a heart transplant at some time in the future. Cohen has had several rounds of chemo and is gearing up for surgery soon.

Please join me in praying for Jimmy, Kelsi, and Cohen. Also pray for Ashley, that she will continue to have the strength she needs to face each day and each treatment and surgery.

Her blog and the blog for Kelsi and Cohen are linked over on the left in my list of favorite blogs.

Thank you for reading. :)


kaaron said...

I totally understand your feelings about your child being younger than everyone else's and not having that closeness.

Am so sorry to read about your cousins' troubles. Definitely saying a prayer for them.

Baby Step said...

Wow, that is a lot of heartache and trauma to have two little kids with such serious health problems.

I am so happy you are pregnant, really, truly. I can understand that you are a little sad that your child's cousins will be so much older...but it will still be great that he/she has so many cousins!

I am first generation and my dad is an only child. I do have several cousins on my mom's side but they live very far away (India) and I never got to know them well.

All my grandparents died before I was 1 year old.

So this is something I have always envied -- big families, family gatherings, cousins, are very lucky!

The Wiley Family said...

Thank you for everything Lizzy. I love receiving your comments and knowing that I have family to support us through this hard time. :o) I miss you and hope to see you soon. Good luck with the babies. I wish you only the best.