Among the great and happy memories of my childhood are my cousins. They were an inheritance from my step-father. He had three sisters, and they had children. I met them just shortly after my mother married my step-dad, and we stayed a day or two at one of the aunt’s houses while they went away—maybe for a honeymoon—that part I don’t remember.
Here’s what I do remember; lots and lots of fun. I don’t remember a single time ever that my cousins were around that we didn’t have a blast. In the winter, we rode sleds down the road in front of our house. In the summer we hiked the woods behind our house, or we rode horses. When we first moved into our developing neighborhood, we spent an evening climbing all over the skeleton of the house next door, playing hide and seek, throwing dirt clots at each other.
I still remember the anticipation when the cousins were coming over. The family went into high gear, getting the house straight, preparing the food, heating up the grill outside for the hotdogs and burgers. I also remember the freedom we older girls experienced once the cousins arrived. Whereas we were normally expected to help care for the younger siblings as part of our daily responsibilities, when the cousins came over there were enough adults around to take care of the babies, and we older kids were allowed (and quite probably encouraged) to go outside and play. I don’t know that anyone ever checked on us to see what we were up to—though they probably did. I don’t remember ever having to be told to go outside to play; it’s just what we did when we got together.
As we moved into our early teen years, our interests changed. We replaced hiking in the woods, croquet, and sledding down the street with showing off our latest dance moves, roller skating around our wide-open basement, occasionally going to movies; and because we were “kissing” cousins, even going out on dates as we got older.
Yep, the times I spent with my cousins still makes me smile. They were such happy, carefree times. We didn’t communicate on a daily basis—sometimes we went months without seeing each other. Then they’d come to our house, or we’d go over to see them, or travel to Pennsylvania to visit, and it was like we just picked up the conversation where we had left off.
The last time I saw my cousins was at a family reunion several years ago. The glow of all the fun was still there as we reminisced. Lots of years had passed since our childhoods, and that day we also spent time discussing our families—wives, children, grandchildren. Time had rolled on, and we had grown up. Life had done its usual thing–some good times, some sad times, some bad times. But nothing—and I mean nothing—will ever take away the memories of those growing up years and all the fun we had together. I sure do love those cousins.