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Posts Tagged ‘cousins’


My cousin’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and we shared the holiday with her and her husband for many years. This year, she was in the midst of packing to move and I wasn’t travelling, so we endeavored to have Thanksgiving at our house, even though I wouldn’t be able to assist in preparations. Our family, cousins and sister’s family chipped in on the cooking and cleanup to make a beautiful Thanksgiving feast. And to my utter delight, I was able to take my first bites of food beginning that week. Thanksgiving was particularly poignant as we all were so grateful for my survival and beginning recovery. Recovery began and proceeded, marked by small advances through December and January. One drain out; then another. First shower. First food after months of IV feeding. Weight gain (I had lost 15 lbs.) Walking further. Driving. Pain lessening. I scheduled the prophylactic mastectomy for June, sure I would be well enough to have the next surgery in seven months.

To be continued . . . . . .

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I missed my kitchen. These are strange words coming from someone who used to struggle to think of what to make for dinner. But somehow (a little late for my kids unfortunately), I have come into my own, in the kitchen. It helps that I love it since we did a mini renovation, and made it more pleasant to be in it.

But the real pleasures are found in the zen of preparing the food, knowing what is in the dishes prepared and those with whom we share our meals.

So after being away nearly 3 weeks, I got busy in the kitchen. It was around Passover, and I was not hosting a seder, but for some reason (maybe its because I was returning from Israel?) I felt like cooking traditional Jewish food. Chicken soup, brisket, potato kugel, matzah brie, vegetables, lots of vegetables, charoset, hummus from scratch (from dried beans), cabbage salad, beet salad. My fridge runneth over.

I entertained many friends, sharing meals and stories, and lots of laughs. That’s the best part. With 11 of us crammed into my small kitchen, nothing could be more comfortable. There is nothing like the warmth of a kitchen filled with food and friends.

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Sometimes we are blessed with relatives we would choose as friends. All too often however, we are instead, “stuck” with those whom we wish we could disassociate.

As a second generation immigrant, my father grew up in close proximity to family; cousins, 2nd cousins, etc. As they moved away, staying in touch meant traveling pre-interstate highways, to (then) rural Connecticut, from New York City. I remember these trips to the farm; the friendly relatives, the chickens and bringing home freshly laid eggs. It was a treat to be in the fresh air and countryside. Ever an observer of nature and people, I took in the “different” sights, sounds and odors of the experience.

Because of the relationships fostered then, we continue in this generation, to stay in touch with some of our distant relatives. Of course, technology makes it even easier now. We share a common “memory,” which keeps us connected. Even though many years may pass between seeing each other, that common bond makes it easy to pick up where we left off.

I remain in touch with most of my first cousins, with various levels of contact, save for two of them, who have remained elusive. Despite a warm relationship with this aunt, uncle and cousins when we were kids, we became estranged at some point in adulthood. Our invitations to joyous family events were ignored, so we took the hint and just stopped reaching out. One of the two cousins stayed in touch for awhile, but only because her abusive lifestyle required money and housing. Eventually, she wore out her welcome.

My father and all his brothers are gone now. Recently, one of the estranged cousins passed away at age 53. Not shocking considering his family legacy of heart disease and a father and uncles who had early heart attacks. But sad just the same. He was the first of our generation and a wakeup call to us all.

They lived far away and only one of the cousins attended the funeral. some of us discussed it. We all felt no connection. There was no relationship, in spite of the blood that bound us. I vacillated between the “should” and “why?” question. The “should” because he was family; the “why?” because he didn’t include us as such in his life.

The “why?” won out and I have made my peace. I left a comment on the online memory book. I will reach out to his wife to express my sympathy. And that will be appropriate for this relationship.

As to his sister, I planned to do much the same, in spite of her past behavior. After all, she is the last in her family to survive. I understand she would feel alone in a way that most people her age would not. But I struggle to be benevolent with someone who has hurt and  cheated so many people and dramatized life’s events as all hers, without regard to how anyone else is affected. I resent her rambling public FB post insulting our family for not supporting her, as if she had a right to it. To those who know nothing of her past behavior and disrespect of her family, she looks like the victim.

So to my cousin’s immediate family: wife, children and grandchildren, who will truly miss someone they held dear, I will send my love. I will need some time to figure out an appropriate way to reach out to the self-centered sister whose only reaction at her brother’s loss is to try and make her the center of attention once again.

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