My Cousin, My Friend.

I grew up as an only child, not knowing that I actually had cousins, a lot of them, and half siblings, and grandparents, and it wasn’t a terrible childhood, in fact it was the best one I could imagine.

I was born in 1960, a time when unwed pregnancies were not talked about and single mothers were rare; adoption was the trend in those days.

I was the child of an unwed mother, and was adopted by my grandparents. That loving, selfless act of generosity and love opened up many doors for me in terms of opportunities, being raised well, but being raised without a big family; my parents’ parents were long dead, they had survived their siblings so there were no aunts, uncles, cousins for the most part; one aunt who I adored (married to my dad’s brother who passed when I was 10) and one cousin who was a decade older.

I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything, not even for more family at the time I was growing up.

My parents died when I was young, the hazard of being adopted by your mom when she is 51 and your dad when he is 50. You are not going to get them much past 25 and that’s what happened to me.

Verna Age 13
A time came in my late 20’s when I really wanted to explore the family I didn’t know. This would be on my paternal father’s side. I had grown up with my two  half sisters living up the street. We were fairly close in age, me being older by a couple of years, but they moved after their (our) father was killed in an accident, and we lost touch.Through research which I happen to be good at,  I found them, wrote a letter, and they embraced me without reserve or judgement, But it was awkward. Hard. We might have shared DNA but we did not share a lot of memories, and they could not share too many of their memories of (our) father because they were under 5 when  he passed.
Sian age 13

We tried to stay in touch, it was harder with my younger sister because we were too far apart in age as children, I always saw her as my friend’s kid sister.  It just has not clicked, and that’s ok.

But something strange happened with this odd reunion.It was two cousins that stood out, who blended in with my life like an old comfortable glove envelopes your hand, year after year, bringing comfort, warmth, it’s reliable, you can’t really replace them. Anything else wouldn’t feel right. You’re invested.

One of these cousins is the son of my father’s sister.

But this blog is not about him, (his time will come lol)
The other is the daughter of my father’s brother.

We are very close in age, in fact, three weeks apart…she is OLDER….lol.

We went to the same schools growing up, and I think we were in the same class once or twice.

Verna graduation

Funny thing is, we never connected as friends.

I don’t mean we disliked each other, we just didn’t stop when our paths crossed.

Fair enough, we did not know we were related.

I wish we had stopped in each other’s path because I believe, today, we would have a lot of memories to talk about.

I really feel we missed out.

Me at grad (cannot find a full length one, just as well!)

I have not seen her in person for probably 45 years.

I have her image in school photos, and if anyone had mentioned her name to me while I was growing up I would have recognized it, recognized her as my friends’ cousin…..my friends’ who were my half sisters, at the time unknown to any of us.

It is odd to me that we lived in the same community, went to the same schools to a point, I think she moved on to a different school half way through elementary school, we were back passing each other in the halls at junior high, and then embarked on separate roads after that, but we shared things we did not realize.

A family tree for one thing!

Grandparents!

Probably hair color, skin tone (we are both dark like our fathers), who knows,maybe the same freckles, laugh, or lazy eye….(I have yet to find out about that!)

Most cousins meet at their grandparents house.

We met, really met, over facebook.

It sounds so shallow, so “social media-esque”, but I have to tell you, in my cousin Verna, I found my second self.

Are we alike? Probably a little. Maybe she is like her dad and I am like mine. I don’t know  because I never met my uncle and I only have vague, little girl memories of my father pushing me around in a wheelbarrow, taking is on rides when I was at his house playing with his girls/my half sisters.

I remember he had dark curly hair and really nice teeth.

So do I.

Are we kindred spirits?

I think so.

I envision she would have been the Hardy to my Laurel, the Robin to my Batman, the Ethel to my Lucy, or  maybe the other way around. ( I am aging myself, I know!)

The Midge to my Barbie…the Mindy to my Mork….you get the point!!

Sometimes you just click with a person you are comfortable with and you don’t have to pretend to be normal.

You fit.
Many times over the last couple of years I have been pretty vocal on facebook about various trials and tribulations in my life, a life she has not shared with me, about my children she has never met,  and over private messaging mostly, she has been the one there doing it when everyone else says is there anything I can do.
Comforting me. Understanding me. Not judging, just being with me. Words are powerful, especially when they are heartfelt.
I do not mean to disparage the many people in my life who support me and truly care. This is not about them.
This is about my cousin. Her words have helped me when the road has been rough and long.
Distance and time seem to have no power here, in this relationship.
 I think our fathers are in Heaven looking down on their girls and making magic happen. I really do.
There is no other way to explain the bond I feel with a woman I have not seen in many years, a woman who was not ever really my “friend” in childhood, just a face and a name passing by on life’s journey, reaching a mutual destination when we are both in our 50’s.
Destination: Different, beautiful flowers in the same garden. (She can be what she wants, I am the tiger lily…..ok?)

So never underestimate the power of a cousin.  In this case, the power of two men who fathered two daughters who met, really for the first time, after half a century.

I hope one day I can be there for her as she has been for me.

Verna Coulson-Tallosi.  Happy Birthday!!! I swear we shall meet in person before you qualify for your senior’s discount!!

Until next time, I am right behind you cuz!

___________________________________X0_________________________________________

Verna and her lovely mum
Me and my lovely (birth) mum.
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