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Tales of cousins, bald heads and the importance of family

Bonnie Simmerman, Community Voices • Jun 24, 2018 at 8:30 AM

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of being with many of my first cousins whom I had not seen for several years. The first time was at a Celebration of Life for a dear aunt on my mother’s side of the family who passed away at age of 96. She was one of 12 children and she left behind many nieces and nephews.

At the gathering, there were about 15 of my first cousins in attendance. It was very interesting to see them. We had scattered to several states over the years and had not had a family reunion in several years. The only time I had seen most of them was when my mother died 14 years ago.

It was easy to see how much we changed over the years. Some were walking with canes, most all of us have gray hair, and many of the men are bald. (That seems to be a family trait.)

As we visited with our cousins, we found out that several of their siblings had passed away. It was sad to think that we did not even know about their passing. Maybe we should have kept in touch more over the years.

It is interesting to me how many times I heard someone say, “You haven’t changed a bit!” Do they really think I had gray hair 15 years ago? Maybe their memory is failing as well as their health. Even though we were there to say goodbye to a special aunt, it was an appropriate time to reacquaint ourselves with our first cousins and meet their spouses and children. I heard many say that we should have another family reunion before too long.

My next cousin reunion was on my dad’s side of the family. My cousins have scattered over several states and have not seen each other very often. We had a total of five first cousins along with three spouses, a sister-in-law, and two of the younger generation. It was a wonderful time of remembering.

There was more laughter than anything else. Stories were told about things we did in our childhood — many of which we had forgotten. My sisters and I, along with our cousin recalled about time spent playing house when we were little. We recalled how we would say “Plike” you are the mother. Or “plike” you are the baby. We also recalled playing church when another cousin would get mad if he could not be the preacher. Oh, such fun we had in those days.

We spent a great deal of time sharing stories of our families, our travels, and our jobs. One would tell something they had done and that would remind the rest of us of a similar experience we could share. Some tales were told twice because some of the group could not hear very well and would retell a story just after someone else had done so. We took that in stride also and all laughed together. At our age, we can understand that we change in many ways as we get older.

It was interesting to have two of a younger generation with us. They enjoyed listening to our tales and asking questions which prompted us to remember more.

As I think back over the two cousin get-togethers — one a funeral and one a social gathering, I think about how important families are. Many of us only see family members when someone dies. Perhaps we should take time to plan a family get-together just for the fun of it. Think about the good times and make good memories of the present as well.

Bonnie Simmerman can be reached at simmermanb@embarqmail.com

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