Growing up, I had three sets of cousins.
I had my Uncle Jack (my dad’s brother) and Aunt Dorothy’s kids – John, Patty, and Murphy (MaryAnne – but everyone called her Murphy). We’d get to see them whenever our Dad took us over to see them, or sometimes, when Aunt Dolly (Uncle Jack’s twin sister) was babysitting and she’d have us all over for a sleepover. John was the oldest, and couldn’t be bothered with us girls. Patty was Linda’s age, and Murphy was my age. It was always fun at Uncle Jack’s house. At least until the day he threw us into the pool and ruined our expensive orthopedic shoes (which Linda and I both hated wearing) and Charlie threw a fit.
I had my Uncle Bob (my mom’s brother) and Aunt Joyce’s kids – Timmy, Jimmy and Tommy (later came Billie and Cathy). Timmy was the older – too cool for school – kid; Jimmy was the nice one, and Tommy was my age, and a lot of fun.
When we lived on Essex Street, we’d see them at my Grandma’s house for Easter and Christmas. When we were living with my Grandma, they’d sometimes come by to play – or at least Tommy did.
Then my Mom married Charlie, and we really didn’t see much of Uncle Bob’s kids anymore – possibly because Uncle Bob didn’t like Charlie – and, like I said, we’d only see Uncle Jack’s kids when Dad took us over, because Uncle Jack hated Charlie (you have to stand in line to join the “I can’t stand Charlie” club). Of note, both Uncle Bob and Uncle Jack worked at the same place Charlie did – so it wasn’t like they didn’t really know Charlie – apparently Charlie had quite a reputation at his work too.
But Charlie brought us a new set of cousins, Alice and Marilyn. Marilyn was a couple months older than me (something I remind her of each and every birthday); and Alice was right in between Linda and me.
The four of us bonded like sisters.
Marilyn was like me, a girlie-girl – we spent many an hour playing Barbies; and Alice was like Linda – the smart one.
We all loved the Beatles and saw A Hard Day’s Night and Help together several times.
And we all embraced the hippie culture – to the extent any white girl in small town Michigan might be expected to.
We had many adventures together – from messing with the Ouija Board, having a weenie wagger chase us around the grounds of an abandoned chemical plant, to pretending to play musical instruments to Beatle songs in the living room when the folks were away, to hanging out downtown near the river, talking to sailors from the foreign ships that were docked there. Marilyn and Alice even lived with us for a while, while their Dad was very sick (Uncle Norb had heart disease and had open heart surgery a number of times before he finally passed away).
I am sure our parents would have shit little gray kittens if they had known what all we got up to when we were together.
Now, I live in Northern California, my sister Linda lives in Florida, Alice lives in Essexville (in my Grandma’s house! They are only the second owners of that house), and Marilyn lives in Bay City.
We all got married (I was the last, by far); Linda and Marilyn had kids (Alice and I did not).
As time went by, we would tend to change which cousin was our bestie, depending on where we were in life.
For some time, I have been very close with my cousin Alice. We have so much in common. Alice stays connected with Linda too.
Marilyn has mostly separated from the three of us. It’s okay, her life is focused on her kids and their kids. And that’s a good thing too.
I miss Marilyn sometimes, and we chat from time to time, but we just live very different lives now and have very different opinions about things.
I just feel really lucky to have had all these wonderful people who came into my life at different points.
Thank you for the good times and the laughs.
Cousins sure are special.