Grandma’s house by pandorasecho

Grandma’s house

I have been thinking how grateful I am for the part of my life shared by cousins. No one else understands my childhood better or knows the smell and taste and texture of my grandma’s house and cookies better. No one else has been as consistently there when it mattered, ever since I was born into this world. Every wedding, funeral, trick or treat session, Thanksgiving feast, fishing and hunting trips, Sunday dinner, cutting asparagus and feeding chickens and stomping sauerkraut and … Just THERE.
My mom was an only child, but she had four cousins growing up on the same ranch near Meeteetse, Wyoming. They were more like her brothers than cousins, even though they had different houses. Because they were double first cousin, all their extended relatives were the same. Two sisters from rural Illinois moved to Wyoming and married two brothers born there within the first decade of Wyoming Statehood. of course they had other cousins as well, back in Illinois and although they didn’t see them as often, they still visited and exchanged newsy handwritten letters often enough to remain important to each other.
My Dad wasn’t an only child, in fact he was one of the youngest of a dozen siblings and nieces and nephews raised first by his parents, then by his Dad, Oldest sister and her husband. That meant that there were cousins and siblings a plenty, but growing up in a span of a couple decades meant some of the siblings felt like parents or strangers, while some of the nieces felt like siblings.

For me, I was an only child until just before I started school, and my cousins were an important part of my life. The ones who lived near me, were the children of mom’s cousins Roger and James. Roger’s daughter, Darla was only a couple years older than me and his son Derek was only a couple months older. Another of Mom’s 4 cousins had a son just 4 days before I was born but while still living in Wyoming was far enough away that we only saw them a few times a year. Later when my brother, Brett was born, more younger cousins joined the family too, soon it was Darla, Derek and Sandi, in Powell, Wyoming and Steven and Rhonda in Meeteetse at the old family homestead. Then Howard and Thea in Wyoming born to Terry - and Jonel and Jennifer born to Donald in a family that traveled more so never returned to Wyoming except for hunting and family times like funerals and some holidays. Fortunately I got to know them better during a couple extended stays when I went to Meeteetse to babysit for weeks in the summer.

Two other groups of cousins were important in my life, in Illinois there were extended weeks in summer, visiting and doing family picnics and sleepovers or working in the family farmhouse and barns. Albert Beightol had several kids I adored, Orville Beightol had one son adopted at age five from Germany. Freddy was my hero, and I was crushed at age 14 when he returned from the marines safely only to die in a car crash on a dark farm road hitting a car stopped without lights in a lonely intersection.

The cousins from my Dad’s side of the family visited us a few times, wrote letters to me, and we visited them in Anaheim, California or in Pittsburgh. My cousin Tim lived with us for awhile and when he got married his wife and he moved into a small place in Cody for awhile before returning to California.

Even now, mostly thanks to Facebook, and Christmas letters, we stay in touch, cheering new weddings and births and mourning fresh losses and laughing over old jokes.
Sounds a lovely close family….it’s good to stay in touch with as man6 family as possible!
November 22nd, 2022  
Very nice
November 23rd, 2022  
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