What is it about big families that make it all so amazing when you meet up as adults and have so much to say!! My father came from 12 children who survived into adulthood, and my mother from 9 who also lived a full life. This meant that I had many many cousins that I never met, or rarely saw.
I got to know my father's side much more, as his mother being the matriarch, would insist that all her children who were living near bye would attend her house every Sunday afternoon. We bought our own food, and the children all played together in the garden whilst the adults sat around and chatted freely amongst themselves.
My mother's family lived in London and quite a journey by bus to get to them, so we visited infrequently and missed getting to know the many cousins on the maternal side.
I know that from my paternal side I have 15 cousins all of whom arrived after me my brother and our older cousin Johny. He was the first, and how my brother and I looked up to him!.He lived with my grandmother who lived in a house bought by her son and daughter who were both single and lived at home. His own mother had gone to live in France and sent money home, but he saw her from time to time... not really often enough, so it meant that myself and my brother were his 'siblings in a manner of speaking.
Being 18 months older than me, I iidolised him and thought him so clever and listened to every word he uttered... he must have liked being so adored.. he was close to me, and my brother being another 18 months younger was always the outsider in our little games. That, looking back was hard on him, but that was how kids worked out the place in their little gangs.
Every Sunday we would walk from the bus stop by the bridge down a long road to reach the house. It was a large semi-detached and would be waiting all quietly until Johny saw us and flung open the door to let us in... He was always full of stories and games to play and was the leader in all our games. As the other cousins were born and came to be part of the Sunday rituals, it was harder to be able to play on our own, and we would have to include the others who, in our eyes were babies!!
Once in a while my mother would take my brother and myself on the bus to London to see my other grandparents. Sometimes my dad came too, but more often it was just us and mother. This time the roles were reversed, as we were part of the youngsters now and not able to play with the bigger kids.to count these cousins.. I think there were over 20 many of them much older, so we sat and listened as mother chatted to her mother and father. if her sisters were there, the conversation would be long and interspersed with loud laughter, my mother reverting to talk just like all the others in the cockney dialect... I hated that, as with us, we all spoke much more correctly, in my eyes anyway!¬!
Now with Facebook and other gadgetry I am refinding my maternal cousins and getting in touch with them, which is marvellous... we can exchange stories of our grandparents and they can fill in the gaps that I have, in the family histories, and its all wonderfully exhilarating..
Today was such a day. My cousin Rita came for lunch with her husband Derek. They have been married over 44 years, like me, have five children, but opposite to me having three girls and 2 boys. Travel in England is so easy and it only took them just over an hour to arrive!
The last time we had met was over 9 years ago, and yet it seemed like yesterday as we got down to having cups of tea and talking and talking and talking all the time, as though we saw each other last week. The men went and chatted out in the garden and because its the August Bank Holiday Flower Festival at the church, Rita and I went to walk around... Lots of pictures were taken and the time passed in a flash.. what a super day to remember and one I shall treasure.. I am so happy to be part of this family as well as my dad's,. and the funny thing is that whilst we were going round the festival, we were asked if we were sisters!! I liked that, made me feel even closer...
So I am so lucky to be involved in big families either side of my genealogical tree, and next year I am going to plan to get them all together at my house to catch up on times lost..
I really did have a lovely day, and the lunch I made went down well too..and the rains stayed away until after they left, what more could a girl ask for!!?