We recently had a family funeral. It had been 15 years or more since I had seen some of those cousins but there was that immediate kinship. It needed no words. It is a bond without explanation. A blood-tie.
I love my cousins and I love the idea of cousins. I have almost 30. We make a point of getting together once or twice a year, just to catch up and to have fun.
Cousins are nice for many reasons. You are not that close to them that they judge, but not so far apart that they do not understand. They accept you as you are, they don’t backstab or bite. They have no need to. They are your blood. They knew you as a child and they know the circumstances that shaped you. They identify with you. They were a source of strength through each family tragedy. They walked together with you, in your family shoes.
Aunts and uncles will always see you as a child. They frown easier, like parents do, because they feel that they have a vested interest in you. They have watched you from birth and wish the best for you.
Sad though are aunts and uncles that become grumpy with age. Life is difficult, sure, but if you going to sit at a family barbecue with a sour face, why come? Stay at home and you won’t be irritated or annoyed, nor will the people around you be inconvenienced by your disapproving face and under-handed grumbles. And hell, if you have become a vegetarian and do not eat bacon, bring your own food. Don’t sit there and complain about what is on offer when you have contributed zip.
I had to laugh at the funeral though. An older ducky approached one of my aunts and said:
“Mary, is that you?”
“Yes”, said Mary, “And who may you be?”
“It is me, Sarah, don’t you remember?”
“Of course I do Sarah!”
Sarah stood still for a moment and looked Mary over, from top to toe before exclaiming: “My Mary, but you have gotten old!”
Mary visibly froze, then slowly shook out her feathers: “Well Sarah, you don’t look to young yourself”.
“But Mary, you look ancient!”
By this time I was rolling on the floor laughing but neither of them noticed.
“Now listen Sarah, I am seventy-three years old, what do you expect?”
Sarah tapped her foot: “But you look seventy-three!”
Mary was turning red: “How old are you Sarah?”
“I am fifty-six”.
With a satisfied grin Mary looked Sarah straight in the eye and said: “Well, you also look seventy-three”.
And that was the end of that.
Comical as it was, it made me realise that these two had not seen one another for thirty or forty years, and that they have long since passed the age of niceties. They say it like it is. And the appearance of the other was indeed a great shock, a realisation of time gone by.
I was sad that I had lost a cousin whom I had not seen enough of. I was more sad for my aunt and uncle and remaining cousins for the loss they will have for as long as they live. But I was grateful to find that the bonds with my family were still intact and that it will always be.
Because in the end, blood is very much thicker than water.