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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

blue cousins

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Here are second cousins, sons of two of my nephews. Second cousins are of the same generation, and they have different grandparents but the same great-grandparents, in this case my mom and dad. At the cottage clean-up day, Asher, on the left, was shy at first. But pretty quickly he and Aden realized they had probably met before (lots of times) and they must like the same things. The rest of the day they were inseparable.

Here they are at the spring 2007 cottage clean-up day, Aden on the left this time.



I myself had one cousin. And she died young. I have no memories like this.



Well I would have been playing with dolls, not cars.

































Do you see three-year-olds? Or future old men?














My one cousin was Marjorie. I think I met her twice, maybe three times. In fact I had so little contact with her I forgot her name and had to ask Bootsie. I was remembering "Melanie." She and my father's brother, Uncle Jimmie, lived in Richmond and it was a big deal if they, or we, made the long road trip to visit. I never met Aunt Virginia, who died before I was born. One Thanksgiving when I was about eleven, they came. Marjorie was already a mature fragile Southern flower, and maybe I would have pictured her like Blanche DuBois if I had known Tennessee Williams' character then. Her skin was pale, her hair the color of the lightest salmon maple leaf. She hardly spoke, and if she did, it was in a soft Virginian voice of grace. She was modest, unsure. We shared a room that week, and I don't remember a word passing between us. I knew she suffered a mental fragility, related in part to her mother's mental illness, which was triggered at the time of Marjorie's own birth. I didn't know how to talk to such a person. A couple decades later when she died, there was mystery and suspicion around the circumstances. Supposedly it was suicide, but my uncle, who believed in everyone, was certain that her husband, whom she had met in a hospital and who was not unlike Stanley Kowalski, was responsible.

Why share all that in a post about three-year-old cousins who rediscover the joy of boyhood every time they meet? To show that there are some things we learn later in life, like how cousins can be good friends. Don't we as parents try to make our children's lives better than our own, in whatever ways we can? It's the nature of our Instinct. All possibilities are reborn with every new child.

Right, DeeDee? Welcome to sweet little Lily.
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68 comments:

Sandy said...

What a beautiful post and photos. Cousins, I had one too, I spent a week with at the beach once, but we hardly knew each other, kind of strange because we actually grew up in the same little town in Kansas, but my mom use to say she was a "brat" so we didn't play with her often, how rude was that...

These little boys are adorable!

VioletSky said...

This is so sweet. I didn't grow up with cousins and didn't meet mine until I was a teenager. Now we are close, sortof, in spite of the big age difference, but I so enjoy that little family connection we have even though the rest of our lives are miles apart (figuratively and literally)

The Bug said...

I have tons of first cousins - 7 on my mom's side of the family & 6 on my dad's. One of my cousins is still my best friend - we roomed together in college & seminary & were in each other's weddings. We emailed each other just this morning. I never really thought about how special that was until I was older - I didn't make friends easily & I had all of these ready-made cousin friends!

Loring Wirbel said...

Gee, Ruth, I almost feel like you were cheated. I'm like The Bug, tons of cousins. Harry Chapin's brother, Tom Chapin, is a famous singer of children's songs, and did a great song called "The Cousins Are Coming!" Maybe it's on YouTube or Google somewhere, a joy...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Gosh, those two blue chaps are adorable. How wonderful that they will grow up together. I can just see them being close all their days.

*jean* said...

a beautiful post, ruth..i especially love the photo of the boys on the deck where one of them has his head sucked down in his jacket and the beautiful fall sky behind them...precious memories, to be sure...

*jean* said...

oo he's looking up through the trees...even better!

Cori said...

Oh How sweet! At what age do we lose the ability to make new friends? And why? I love watching kids play, especially when they are very young and seem to speak more with body language than words.

CottageGirl said...

Oh -- isn't it great to have a friend that you don't get to see very often, but who is a kindred spirit? These boys will always remember the sweet times they had at the lake.

Good for all of you that you still get together. Sometimes life gets so busy that family reunions go by the wayside.

Wonderful photos, as usual, Ruth!

Patricia said...

Hi Ruth,
I love this post. It is poignant and rich with feeling and evokes strong memories for me. I have a very favorite second cousin, our grandparents were brother and sister. We only saw each other when I would spend the summer in Montana traveling by train from Virginia. She was a rancher's daughter and I was a suburban child.

Today we are still good friends although there were great blocks of time when we were unknown to each other.Now my son and her daughter are friends!

I remember when they were 8 and 9 and we were in MT. The girl said to the boy, "Want to catch leeches?", and they were off.
They are still firm friends fifteen years or so later.

Cheers, P.

rauf said...

There were no complications in my family like i become my own grand father, have you read that joke Ruth ?

i became a grand father when i was in school. My father was the youngest of four brothers and a sister. i had nephews and nieces before i was born. One day i came to know there was another Rauf in the family, i was very angry with my father, he spelt his name differently. He visited my sister yesterday. He is not comfortable with me. His younger brother is dear to me. oh i am a great grand father to many Ruth.

Oh these pictures were taken by grandma Ruth, Aden Asher will say one day. One of them may write your biography too, with pictures.

One generation is conservative, next is liberal and the next becomes fundamentalists. That was the pattern in my family, i didn't belong to any of them Ruth. i was away from all the competetion within my cousins in getting jobs, getting wives or husbands, buying property, They were all uniformly scared of me and still are. God knows why.

oh ! thats just an expression Ruth.

Shaista said...

Oh what a beautiful post - those pictures are going to be an absolute treasure for these boys - and it was so clever the way you asked 'Do you picture them as little boys or old men?' because I was just thinking of them as older men, sitting together, drawn into a web of complicity because of this very day.
I have lots of cousins, and it is a very special acquaintance with every one. They're 'your people' - and when you are encouraged to be together as children there is nothing like it later on.
Lucky little chaps to have you!

kanmuri said...

The two boys are really cute. i like the picture of them sitting on their little chairs; just like two old men! lol

I have many cousins, but I don't see them often.

ds said...

Yes, I have many cousins like those. My family hosted the annual reunion for many years; it was quite a gathering. But time goes on, and one generation's "branch" grafts onto the "trunk" of a different tree, and the forest grows...
I am glad that your family tree is growing limbs and remains intact. That is a very special thing.

Dee Dee said...

Thank you Ruthie, Lily is really as pretty as her name. She is delicate and girlie and she can enthusiatically wail out her desire to all in a mile radius. We are so grateful to get to spend this time with the three new lives in just over a year. This, truly is good stuff.
I love the pictures of Asher and Aden you've captures. I know I can always come back to this post to reminisce even when they're all big and grown.
I love your post, my thinking get expand every week, yours is just the best.
Dee Dee

J.G. said...

Lots of resonances here: family, the end of the summer, the past and the future, fall in the background leaves.

I barely know my cousins (they are mostly male, and quite a bit older than me, so we had little in common as children). But your post made me think about whether I've missed out. You have such a way with words and pictures, Ruth.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Human Beings , are such fragile creatures... and all so individual... and how time and miles bring us together or lose us from each other...

such sweet and lucky young boys... we can but look at them and be happy.

California Girl said...

You present some interesting thoughts. I have one cousin. He's 15 yrs older. My brother and I worshipped him when we were young and we are all still close.

I remember longing for cousins and a big family when I was young. Mother had four cousins and tons of newphews & nieces whom my father referred to as my second cousins or did he refer to them as "second cousins once removed"? I never could get the distinctions straight.

The boys, btw, are beautiful.

caroldiane said...

I wonder how the incredibly well documented children of this new generation will reflect on their childhoods? I imagine they will treasure images and stories such as your blog, Ruth! Now, we just have to figure out how to archive them effectively to save them til they are old enough to appreciate!!

Ruth said...

Oh how true, Sandy. Who we spent time with as kids was partly shaped by our parents. In some families the cousins would feel "safe" - and in others, like yours, not so much. :)

Nowadays, around here anyway, parents are very particular about their kids' playmates and drive them to each others' houses. We just used to walk out the door and spend the day with everyone in the neighborhood.

Ruth said...

Violetski, I am getting more interested in family ties and history as I get older. In fact I have very distant cousins somewhere in the world: my mother's dad remarried a few times and had more children. But I have a large enough family of my own to keep track of and won't go off looking for them.

♥ Braja said...

Oh, absolutely old men!! lol :)) Loved it....

Susan said...

What sweet, handsome boys! You can tell that this is the meeting that will bond them together forever, because now they will be able to remember each other. I hope their parents will keep that connection going between meetings.

I had dozens of cousins, but only one with whom I had a close relationship. We are six months apart in age and we used to run around together as teenagers. We don't see each other much these days...we have totally different lifestyles and views, but there is still a strong familial connection when we do get together.

It's so wonderful that Hukilau is there...for the present...and more importantly, for the future.

Deborah said...

Cousins can be pretty special - I had three cousins who lived too far away for me to get to know them while we were young. Then the middle one came into my life in middle age and stayed there - he is like another brother to me, but without any of the grew-up-together baggage that brothers and sisters sometimes carry with them.
A very thoughtful, enjoyable post, as usual.

Oliag said...

Wonderful photos of the boys!...Are you practicing for grandchildren photos?:)...It was when I became a grandmother that I rekindled my love of photography...and still find children very hard to capture!

I grew up with many many cousins and every holiday was a huge, fun gathering...As we have aged we see less and less of each other but still try to get together at least once a year for a "Cousins Party"...

Mrs. M. said...

Cuzes...I have many, and no siblings. I think that creates a different bond within.

Shared parents vs. shared grandparents - hmmmm...

I imagine Lesley and Peter have different memories than me of our grandparents: equally sweet and poignant. One thing I know - I am blessed to have adult memories and childhood ones as well with all my cousins - from remembering their births and weddings to counting lamps inside the Grand Ledge home as children. I like it that I see Peter as a baby in my mind right now at this moment, and at the same time can see him dancing a few months ago at Lesley's wedding, where her "monkey" wasn't visible!

Ruth, did you ever wish you were older in the Hart clan?

Arti said...

Precious moments... I'm sure both boys will treasure these photos when they're older. I totally agree with you in that "... cousins can be good friends." I'm finding this too true, especially for me who have no sister. I treasure my relationship with my female cousin all the more as I grow older and our life experiences have more in common. Thanks for a beautiful post, Ruth!

Nancy said...

Great post. They are adorable, and cousins can be the best of friends. I had several, and one that is very dear to me right now. I hope they have many years of cabin clean up days.

Ruth said...

Bug, your cousin count is more like my sibling count. I didn't think much about cousins because I was surrounded by brothers and sisters, and I had lots of friends in the neighborhood.

Ruth said...

Loring, I you-tubed that song and didn't find it. I won't mention the disturbing video I did come up with.

Yes I was cheated. I also barely met any grandparents. Not my dad's parents at all. And my mom's mom I don't remember, and only her step-dad Reuben do I have a couple of stellar memories with. But I gotta tell ya, those memories with Reuben might outweigh all that lack. He was a king.

Ruth said...

Pamela, I watched them all day, and none of this was staged. They just paused now and then. Thankfully I caught it some of the time.

Ruth said...

Oh Jean, I could have snapped 100 photos and posted them all and they would have told a story. I did not pose them there, they sat all on their own. I don't think they even talked much, if at all. Oh to be in their little minds.

Ruth said...

Cori, exactly so, you nailed it. These boys did not say many words, especially there on the deck. Don't they look relaxed together!?

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, if you only knew the work it is - not just clean-up days - to keep this place going. It has become a symbol of our family unity, but sometimes it's tough to make decisions, pay for upkeep, think about how to leave it to our kids, etc., etc. Then we have a weekend like this, and we know it's worth it.

Ruth said...

Man, Patricia, that was great. Virginia! A train! Then to have the friendship pass on to your kids, how cool that is.

And catching leeches! Ha, now that sounds like great fun.

(NOT.)

Ruth said...

Oh yes, rauf, I always loved hearing that story, my dad would chuckle telling it. I am my own grandpaw.

I became an aunt when I was 10.

Your comment illustrates how many people can be an influence in kids' lives, not just mom and dad. This alone is probably one good reason for us to keep the cottage and struggle on ahead through the hard decisions. The children come together, and they also spend time with aunts and uncles, grandparents, it is a rich environment full of love and sometimes conflict. Then we have to resolve the conflict, and they get to see that too.

Don't you wonder what makes people choose one path and not another? God knows why.

Ruth said...

Shaista, you bring to mind what stories and conversations these guys and others in the family will have about our tribe. They'll each have their own version, and each will be true, but so different.

I have to be very careful now to get photos of every single person at these gatherings. I didn't used to be careful, and then when I looked back at my file, I felt terrible. I missed getting a photo of my brother Nelson this time, he was only there a short time. It would have been a great one too, him at a table with a lamp disassembled for repair.

Ruth said...

Kanmuri, as they were lounging about this way, I was laughing inside, snapping away outside. I couldn't believe they just kept doing these cute things all on their own. Kids are so sweet at this age, the way they seem oblivious to what others think of them.

Jeanie said...

What a fascinating memory and so beautifully told. I can almost "see" her. I'm very close to three of my cousins, with whom I spent lots of growing up time, and several others somewhat less so. I'm even rediscovering a couple! I love the photos -- darling kids. I always get the seconds and the removeds mixed up!

photowannabe said...

I adore the pictures of the boys in their little chairs just loving life together. I hardly know my cousins either. They all lived in Minnesota and I in California. Just visited a few times when young. Now I don't even know where some of them live. I would treasure renewing acquaintences. Being an only child doesn't give too many relative options anyway.

NJ said...

I had a lot of cousins but the ones I knew best grew up in Saskatchewan where my mother grew up. We visited a couple times a year during my childhood until we moved to Ontario when I was going into grade 7. These days I've been re-connecting with some of them on Facebook which is nice. My cousin Patty who was a few years older than me and was so nice to me when I was a child hopes that during retirement we can plan some trips together. We both lost our mom's to cancer when our Mom's were 58 so we have that bond.

I love the pictures of these little boys and in some pictures they do remind me of old men.

Oh said...

Such pictures! Such great kids and oh, the joy of bonding with a cousin. I am going to go through my pictures.
These are just great, though, Ruth, and the pictures of them in the chairs? each tells many stories. How wonderful you "recorded" them!

Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt said...

This was a beautiful post. I was the youngest of 5 cousins and miss them terribly. We're all scattered across the US.

Ruth said...

DS, we siblings - seven of us left - are trying to keep the cottage alive and well, because we feel like that keeps the family gathering. Don and I also have Farm Day here in August, I think we've had it three times now, and then the wedding this year. Who knows what will happen after our generation is gone?

Ruth said...

Dee Dee, my love. I am very happy to hear that Lily is both feminine and loud voiced. I can't wait to meet her. And when will that be, I wonder? Please give her a big squeeze from her Aunt Ruth and be sure to tell her she will recognize me as the woman with the camera. But I will put it down for a very long time so I can hold her. Then you can take the Nikon again and snap away! :D

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, J.G.. I can tell that as I get older I am increasingly aware of the value of family.

Ruth said...

Gwen, the human experience from conception to the grave is a thread of wonder. That we don't die every day, given our fragility, or go insane with the horrors of the world, shows our strength and stamina. Some of us are too fragile to withstand it. I can't imagine how it would feel to know that when you were born your mother lost her sanity. It weighs heavy on my heart.

Ruth said...

California Girl, we go 'round and 'round about the second cousin vs once or twice removed thing. My niece is the only one that seems to keep it straight. For this post I had to google a web site to see it. And now I think I get it. I think I had to see it visually, and it makes sense to me suddenly that it's about generations. A second cousin once removed is like Aden's dad Paul is to Asher. I think.

Ruth said...

Caroldiane, you are right, this generation is incredibly well documented. Think of all the digital images out there! Have you seen the blog books? I think it would be a nice gift to transfer blog posts into a book. You could pull in whatever categories you wanted, like the posts on family.

Ruth said...

♥ Braja, ha.

Your post about your home town at the locals blog was just wonderful.

Ruth said...

Susie, yes, it's tough when you and other family members disagree in politics and worldview. It's not easy to avoid the discussions, but it's probably wise.

Sometimes Don and I feel like we don't need to keep the cottage. It's a lot of work and money, and we could be taking a nice vacation somewhere every year for what we spend. But then we have a work day like this, and we get in the car and say, "nope, we have to keep it."

Ruth said...

Oliag, yes grandma photos, but also I just love babies, love love love them. I have been in love with these two since they were born. There is something about watching them together that just slays me, and warms my heart.

It's cool that you still get together with your cousins.

Ok, I can't stop thinking about your Outstanding in the Field dinner . . .

Ruth said...

Mrs. M., as the eldest grandchild, you do have a unique view. I love that you can still "see" Peter as a baby. :) Me too, hehe.

No, no, no, I never once wished I was older in the lineup. I LOVE being the youngest. I got a lot of attention, love, care, and I got to learn from their mistakes! :)

Ruth said...

Arti - oh it's good you have a close cousin since you have no sister. I have three sisters, and so I think I did not feel the lack of a cousin so much. Now our tribe is big and growing bigger. I know that when people visit the cottage during our reunions it can be overwhelming. Not only are there a lot of names to remember, but we are an enthusiastic talkative bunch. I imagine they might want to go into a corner and just observe. :)

Ruth said...

Nancy, how wonderful to have a close cousin friend as an adult. You share so much.

I can't wait to watch these boys keep growing together. I hope they remain friends.

Ruth said...

Hi, Jeanie, thank you. I wonder how much my memories of Marjorie are real and how much has evolved over time, filling in the blanks. No less true either way, I suppose.

Ruth said...

Sue, my mom was an only child, and my dad had two siblings. They created a very different size family with 8 kids. It would be cool if you initiated a reunion, yes?

Ruth said...

Wow, NJ, that is quite a connection with your cousin. What synchronicity.

I truly love Facebook mainly for connecting with nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and a few old friends. I can follow their lives in ways I am certain I would not be able to otherwise.

Ruth said...

Oh, I still can't get over how the boys would just plop down somewhere and sit, without talking, and just be. I never once posed them. They acted oblivious to the photographer. I loved it.

Ruth said...

Erin, keeping up on Facebook?

Gwen Buchanan said...

as always Ruthie, I admire your response as much as your post... you have such a huge soul... like a mother hen spreading her wings...

do you, once in a while, have some feathers to creep under too... oh yes there is sweet Don's arms...

Ruth said...

Thank you for that, Gwen.

Yes, Don cares for me very, very well. And to be honest, I care for myself well too.

Now you take care.

xoxoxo

Barry said...

Just about everything to be said has been said, but, for the record, my favorite among the photos were the shots of the two boys sitting in chairs on the deck.

Photos to treasure.

Ruth said...

Barry, I almost don't want them to grow any older, any different.

Bella Rum said...

What adorable photos. Beautiful boys.

I'm always so confused about second cousins and cousins once removed and all that. Ha!

Very interesting story about your cousin. Mental illness is such a misunderstood condition. I'm sure you had no reference for how to talk to your cousin back then. I recall a friend whose sister was schizophrenic (had to look the spelling up). As a teenager, I always felt uncomfortable around her. I just didn't know how to behave with her. It's great that you wrote about this.

Ginnie said...

What is it about these two boys, Ruth, that has grabbed all of us in the family from this past workday! We obviously know the bonds will extend into their years ahead, as modeled by the different sets of cousins before them. I love these beginnings for them. All the images are just priceless! I have tears of joy in my eyes. :)

Ruth said...

Yes, Bella, you and I would have benefited from someone older with understanding sitting down with us and talking a little about mental disorders. Problem is that very few people know how to talk about it, so nothing gets passed on to children and young people about it.

Ruth said...

Boots, if you had seen them all day like this, you would have been squatting with a camera all day too. It was such a delight.