Friday, October 15, 2010

Cousins catch up

Boyd's Lake, Dunany, Que.

Eight weeks into our trip, and 10 of Vicki’s cousins.
It’s kind of pathetic when you think that’s only a quarter of the tally. There are 40 people out there, first cousins to Vicki, all on her mother’s side. Her dad, thankfully, is an only child. Her mother’s eight siblings produced anywhere from two to 11 children each, hence the vast expanse of cousins.
The cousin part of the trip started with a fishing stop in Nipawin, Sask., when we met up with Vicki’s cousin Robyn Hamann, namesake for our daughter. Vicki and Robyn were each raised in smaller communities fringing Brownsburg, Que., went through school together, stood beside each other at their respective weddings. It’s been a long road, always together and means trips between B.C. and Robyn’s farm near Regina, Sask., as often as possible.
The next cousin, fittingly, was Robyn’s eldest brother, Glenn, now owner of the cottage where Vicki spent her childhood summers. Being in the “home” area means spending time with some of the other cousins. Billy, now grown up as William Gauley, and his sister Marion. Then there was a trip to Lachute to meet cousin Patricia Elliot, who Vicki only knew as a little kid way behind her in school. (Turns out it was only a few years but at the time an important few years.)
A day trip to Ottawa led us to more cousins, with Wendy, Bernice and Betty stealing some time out of their daily lives for us.
After Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday of the long weekend, at a table with Glenn, Billy and Marion plus Vicki’s Auntie Mike (known by her childhood nickname because two of Vicki’s uncles married women named Dorothy), we rolled off to Welland, Ont. There lives Vicki’s Auntie Margaret, her mom’s twin sister. Margaret this summer moved into a suite in her son’s Barry’s house. There, Vicki connected with a cousin she hadn’t seen in 35 years. Barry, for a variety of reasons, hasn’t been close with many of the cousins, and as we left, he said how wonderful it was that we had reached out to be back in touch.
At his table, we ate Thanksgiving leftovers on the Monday with another of Margaret’s sons, Robbie, now known as Bob.
And somewhere in that couple of days, there was a trip to see Auntie Elva and Uncle Charlie, Vicki’s mom’s baby sister and her husband in St. Catharines, Ont.
We’re all very different people, leading quite different lives in different parts of the country and yet we can walk into a room and connect. After a few minutes we find something more than blood that we have in common. We find ground for friendship with cousins and with their spouses as we come to know them just a little better.
As we head down a windy, wet highway aiming for a ferry at Sombra, Ont. to cross the St. Clair River into Marine City, Mich., we think of the rest of the family we’ll see this weekend. We’ll be at Ryan Martin’s wedding to Erin Cozart in Dexter, Mich. He’s Vicki’s nephew, son of her brother Warren. We’ll see Warren’s family, her brother Ian and his family, plus her parents who are flying in from Sooke, B.C.
It’s been a Thanksgiving week in the middle of a trip all about family.
To the other 30 cousins, sorry we didn’t connect on this trip. Maybe next time.

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