Passages and Connections
Years are marked by rites of passage and 2009 is no different in that respect: significant birthdays, weddings, graduations, reunions, and holiday celebrations shared with family and friends. What makes 2009 stand out is the joy I have had in re-connecting with cousins in my father’s family who I hadn’t seen in over forty years and with my nephew who had been absent from my life for more than twenty years.
To begin the new year, my cousins, Marty and Ruby, host a “themed” New Year’s Eve extravaganza complete with fireworks and an enormous bonfire. New Year’s Eve is also my granddaughter, Chloe’s, birthday. Her 8th birthday is one she’ll never forget!
Emy, granddaughter of my cousins Marty and Ruby, turned 12 on February 13. We celebrated Emy’s birthday with a trip to San Francisco including a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, an afternoon at the San Francisco Zoo, and dinner in Chinatown.
My cousin, Shirley, and her husband, John, travel between the desert and the mountains, escaping extremes of weather and thoroughly enjoying a well-earned golfing retirement. Thanks to Shirley, I re-connected with cousins in my father’s family who I had not seen for nearly forty years! Thank you, Cousin Shirley!
Matt and I visited with cousins, Pat and Jim McDaniel, at their home in Mt. Shasta. Pat’s daughter, Cathy, another first cousin once removed, drove up from the Bay Area for the reunion. Pat and Jim are gracious and loving people who I am grateful to have in my life.
My nephew, Kenneth, found me on FaceBook. Missing from my life for over twenty-five years, I am overjoyed to have him in my life once again. I described the significance of our reunion on my blog.
My old and dear friend, Jeannette, is keeping alive her family’s tradition of a Labor Day luau. We have fond memories associated with the luau and I was happy to join Jeannette and Butch to celebrate this annual event.
I met John & Lori Mazzei, cousins Shirley and John’s son and daughter, and Lori’s husband, Harold, for lunch in Burlingame. I hadn’t seen John and Lori since they were kids; it’s great to connect with them again.
On December 17, Amber, daughter of my cousin Lydia, received an R.N. degree from Butte College. I was pleased to be a part of the large family group that attended the graduation. Following the graduation we went to dinner to celebrate Amber’s accomplishment.
A Brief Discourse on Cousins
“What is a first cousin once removed?” Linda, asked.
“A first cousin once removed is the child of my first cousin,” I said.
“Isn’t that your second cousin?”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “We’re not in the same generation.”
“I don’t get it,” said Linda.
Linda’s response is typical of the confusion about cousin relationships. Most people have a good understanding of the basic relationship words: mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister. Because most of us are not familiar with the technical terms used to describe cousin relationships, “cousin” seems good enough when introducing a cousin of any degree of relationship.
The definitions below may help to describe family relationships more exactly.
Cousin (a.k.a “first cousin”)
First cousins have the same grandparents as you. In other words, your first cousins are the children of your aunts and uncles.
Second cousins have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.
Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins
Third cousins have the same 2nd great grandparents, fourth cousins have the same 3rd great grandparents, and so on.
When the word “removed” is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word “removed” is not used to describe your relationship.
The words “once removed” mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals “once removed.”
Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.
A relationship chart helps to make things easier and clearer. Take a look at the relationship chart I’ve prepared. It can help you figure out how different people in your family are related. It’s much simpler than it looks. Just follow the instructions.
On the other hand, my daughter, Susan, who has made a heroic effort to keep up with my cousinage, recently commented, “Dad, you have more cousins than the law should allow!”