That’s me, peeking my head out from behind my niece’s beautiful blonde hair. My cousin and I spent many summers while we were growing up taking care of those two sweet girls (and the two boys that came later). I think I must be about 14 here, making Alisha 15. We would often take turns staying with my sister, helping her with her household duties. This is one of the rare times we were there together.
We were one of those very close families that people either envied or found annoying. Not just my parents and their five children, but our whole family. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second cousins, all of us. At least one weekend a month, we would go out to my Uncle Ed’s for a pitch-in dinner. Other weekends, we were having sleep overs or meals on my Grandmother’s farm. My parents even rented a house across the street from my Uncle Don for several years, making almost every day a family reunion. We went fishing, camping, and swimming during hot Indiana summer days, and we shared warm covers, movies, and popcorn on cold Indiana winter nights. But mostly we laughed, loved, and cared for each other in that way only family can.
Those times are long gone but part of them remains with me. They are probably the biggest reason for my devotion to my own family. They are also the source of one of my greatest regrets. My kids didn’t have what I had when I was young. No cousins as automatic best friends, no nieces or nephews to nurture. They didn’t have that because I moved far away from my Indiana hometown and my large extended family. They’ve never had that enduring connection that I have with my family even after all these years.
Do they even know what they missed?
©2016 Nancy Lehmann