Mom and her sisters were best friends. They spent their 'social' time mostly with each other. Because of that, the husbands, too, were friends and we were a close family. We 8 cousins were all raised together and spent lots of fun times together.
I've told you of our Sunday nights at one house or another, where we'd all gather to share a meal. The men would grill the meats, the women would prepare and bring potato salad, tossed salad, cole slaw, corn on the cob, baked beans, three bean salad, and desserts. My favorite of the desserts was strawberry shortcake. Usually I would get to slice the berries that had been hand-picked on Saturday by Mom and probably one of her sisters. If I was cutting up the berries, it meant I could 'taste test' them!
We used to meet at the bay beach on the weekends, and we'd spend the afternoon together. The adults would swim, soak up the sun, and talk together while we kids would take splash, swim, try to avoid getting nipped by crabs and play in the sand. The boy cousins, especially Buddy, would torment me by chasing me with sand crabs. Why that bothered me, I don't know, since I would dig and when I found one, I'd pick it up and put it into a paper cup. Sometimes he was friendly enough to share his fishing towel with me, and together we would work to catch minnows. Most of the time, I tried to steer clear of him as he was not usually nice to me.
The other children were my two younger brothers, Bud's two younger brothers, and my youngest boy cousin and his older sister. She was six years younger than I was, but still, my only girl cousin on Mom's side and I were as close as sisters.
Sometimes I long for those days of closeness with all of the relatives on Mom's side. Life has a way of bringing changes, even if you wish you could keep things the same. Mom, who was born third of the four sisters, is the only surviving one. Daddy passed away twenty-five years ago. My oldest brother died in 2006. My uncles, too, are gone now. That leaves the cousins and our spouses and all of our children and grandchildren. Only of them two remain in our old home town, the rest of us have scattered. Our closeness has faded, and that gives me some heartache.
I try to keep in touch, but everyone is not as responsive as I'd wish. Miles and time stands between us, and we know little about one another at this point in our lives.
All we really seem to have now is memories... blood that runs through our veins. That blood means we are still family members, but sadly, not the same type of family as we once were.
I often think that if we hadn't moved away, we'd be better connected, but there are some things that cannot be changed.