When I was a kid, my grandmother would tell me stories about Cuddin Irene. I could tell from the stories that she and Cuddin Irene were best friends. Her stories stretched from their childhood well into their adult years.
I finally had the opportunity to meet Cuddin Irene. She was a very sweet lady. I found out that not only was she a dear friend of my grandmother’s, she was actually related to my grandmother. They were first cousins. All this time I thought that the woman’s name was Cuddin Irene. All this time, my grandmother was saying cousin Irene.
It was probably better that I thought Cuddin was Irene’s first name. As a child, I don’t think that I would ever seen Irene as anymore than a cousin to my grandmother had I known of their shared kinship. I mean, I had plenty of cousins. They weren’t my friends. We shared a set of grandparents and visited and played together simply because our parents were siblings, but we weren’t friends. Or were/are we?
My cousins and I are all grown now. In fact, we have all reached the top branch of our family trees. We have each lost the barrier of our grandparents or parent and have ascended to the oldest among our surviving relatives.
I am fortunate that I still live close by to my cousins. We don’t visit as we should, but we manage to stay in contact with one another even it is just through social media.
I often times think back on the times we spent together. We all grew up so differently from one another yet share many similar experiences. We played, laughed, argued, fought. We have seen each other through all major life experiences. Other than my brothers, my cousins are the only people in my life that I can remember from a very young child to now 50’s plus adults.
I spent today with my aunt and one of my cousins. The entire time together I had memories flooding my head of all the times we have spent together throughout our lives. Sitting there feeling the love and familiarity we share, I realized that my cousin and I are now the age our grandparents were when we played together as young children. But more importantly, I realized that we are more than cousins. We are friends.
To all of my cousins, thank you for the wonderful times we have shared together. Thank you for the love you have given to me and my family, thank you for the love and concern you have shown for my parents, and thank you for being my friend.