This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with many of my cousins. On Friday, I drove to New Jersey and enjoyed an afternoon including a facial, my first hot stone massage, and a fish & chips lunch with my cousin, This and That co-writer, Jasmine Ratliff. It was fun sharing a much-needed day of relaxation with my “little” cousin. She is one of a handful of cousins I have in the immediate area and since she moved back to the East Coast, we have tried to keep in touch and hang out. Cousins are SO cool…like friend and family all rolled up in one!
Saturday I drove to Philadelphia for a memorial service celebrating the life of my 96-year old Great Aunt. I was able to see cousins of all ages, from far and near. Some I had not seen since we were children; some I met on Facebook but had never met in person. My mother’s family is fairly large…her father was one of several children, and many of his siblings had equally, if not larger families. We have had annual reunions and as children the family history was drilled into our ciphers like ABCs. My cousin Kay and I were reciting history at the service, pointing out relatives and their place on the family tree. I even found myself schooling my own uncle on who some of our younger cousins were. What I love about my family is that I’ve met/re-met cousins on Facebook who I knew but never had a relationship with and that doesn’t seem to matter. You see, in the Rhodes/Walker clan, if you’re family, ENOUGH SAID!! We immediately skip past the “getting to know you” stage and jump right into “Hey Cuz, how you doin’?” accompanied by big hugs and smiles as if we have been best friends for life. THAT’S how we roll!! There are no in-laws, and step-brothers/-sisters/-fathers/-mothers. We are just family!
The current Matriarch of our family, pictured here, is my Great Aunt, Mayor Emma R. Gresham. She served several terms as Mayor of Keysville, Georgia, the town where she and her siblings grew up. Aunt Emma is my Grandfather’s baby sister and, at 86 years of age, she is the last surviving child of my Great-Grandmother, Mrs. Ida B. Rhodes. She has always been the family historian and many of us have sat at her feet over the years and can now recite the same history. As an adult with children of my own, the strength of my family becomes more important to me, and it is imperative that I share this history and strength with my children. I am excited to have her meet them this summer as we travel South! I am even more excited for THEM to meet HER!
I understand that many people don’t have the same connections with their family. I weep for those who have had damaged and strained relationships with even immediate family members. For our readers, if that is the case in your family, then I encourage you to at least start fresh with YOUR family going forward. Instill in your siblings and children the bond of family. It’s a beautiful thing!
What family history and traditions do you treasure most?