There are 31 first cousins in my generation of my father’s family. My dad was the youngest of 8, well, really 9 because one child (Robert) died as a baby. There were five females: Elizabeth (Liz), twins Jane and Catherine (Cass), Mary, and Teresa and three males: Harry Kirby, known as Kirby, George, and my dad Joseph (Joe). They had a rough life growing up; my father’s mother died when he was a baby and his older sisters helped raise him and his next older brother, George. Their father married a woman with children of her own and according to family lore, life became the stuff of cliched fiction with the stepmother favoring her own kids and leaving the stepkids to fend for themselves. One story states that she would often get upset with the youngest two boys and sit them out on the front stoop with their belongings so one of the married sisters would come and get them. As an older adolescent, my dad lived with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Charles till he joined the Air Force at the tender age of 17. Now most of these family members are gone except for Teresa, Mary and George. My dad died first, at the very young age of 42, from lung cancer. The rest have passed on as they became older and suffered health issues. I really miss all of them and have fond memories of that generation of “Rices.” It makes me sad to know that there is so much information and history that is lost to us and I wish I had taken the time to learn more from my dad, aunts, and uncles when we were all younger. Here are a few recent pics of just a handful of relations.
Most of my cousins grew up in New Jersey, some within a few miles or a backyard of each other, while my family lived a nomadic Air Force life, only returning to New Jersey on vacations and between assignments. We also had our “Chicago cousins” — Cass’ eight kids, whom we only saw rarely, and Uncle George’s kids who lived in Utah so we hardly knew them at all. But mostly I remember the NJ cousins and as a kid I was quite envious that some of my cousins seemed to be best friends and did a lot together, while we were the outsiders who only came to visit on occasion.
Over the years we’ve had a few reunions that many of us attended and I regularly see many of the NJ cousins to this day when I return to see my mom. We aren’t the best at keeping in touch but thankfully some of us are on Facebook and get to follow each other’s lives a little bit that way. And sadly we are all getting older and we have already lost a few cousins.
Recently my sister let me know that one of our cousins and his family were coming to San Antonio because their son was completing basic training in the Air Force and would be graduating. So Rich and I decided to drive out and visit for a couple of days.
My cousin Tim is my Aunt Mary’s youngest son. Funny side story: His real name is Thomas but when he was a child, he was very small so everyone called him Tiny Tim which got shortened to Tim. I always knew him as Tim and never knew the story behind it–just thought that Tim was his given name. When I was visiting in NJ not all that many years ago, a bunch of us had gone to a softball game and then back to Tim’s house. I heard his wife Brandi call him Tom and I thought I had misheard. Then someone else called him Tom and Brandi called him Tom again and I finally said, “Did you call him Tom?” She said, “Yes, that’s his name!” What?? I always thought his name was Tim! So they explained that they’d originally met when they worked at the same place where he’d been hired under his official name and everyone there knew him as Tom. She had always known him as Tom and most of their friends call him Tom. She laughingly said, “Your whole family calls him Tim but all of us around here call him Tom.”
We had a great time in San Antonio with Tim/Tom and Brandi, their daughter Veronica and their son Trevor, new AF airman Aaron and his girlfriend Jamie. My sister had a potluck dinner on Saturday attended by her daughters Alana and Rachel and their hubbies and kids, her son Ryan and his wife and kids, her son Eli, and her ex-husband Alan, along with Rich and me and the NJ crew. We enjoyed good conversation and catching up with my nieces and nephews and all of their adorable kids as well as the cousins.
Once upon a time I had an idea that it would be a cool project to photograph and interview each of my first cousins and put it together for posterity. I suppose I could have started this weekend but it didn’t even occur to me. 🙂 Maybe on the next NJ trip!