My uncle Bill gave us a cow for a wedding present. She raised eleven calves, two of which are now part of our slowly growing herd, and a third that is a granddaughter. Fabulous present, that cow.
A year or two after we were married, when my husband had had time to sort through my hordes of aunts and uncles and cousins, he still had one question. “So just how are you related to Bill?” Once we had clarified which Uncle Bill he was speaking of, (I had four) I was able to explain. “He’s married to my mother’s brother’s widow.” “Oh. So you’re not actually related.”
Of course we were. He was my uncle. Because that’s how it is in my family. You can’t get away from us that easy. All of which is a big reason why I wanted to move home. My son deserves to be tormented by his cousins just as his parents were. Especially since he has no brothers or sisters to do the job.
As imaginative as my son can be, a single child can never have as much fun as a pair, or even better, a herd. The potential for really great ideas is multiplied by a factor of ten for each little mind on the job. Would a child alone even consider hiking three miles over to their aunt’s house to see if she has cookies? (my brother and sister) Or commandeering a galvanized steel water tank for a boat, and paddling out across pastures flooded by ten feet of river water? (my husband and his brothers). Not to mention horse races and calf riding and the building of hay forts and mud pits, and the occasional hockey game/fistfight on the frozen reservoir.
Even as an adult, those cousins come in handy. Like when you forget to bring your wallet and you really need to pick something up at the western store because your wife’s birthday is TODAY. How convenient that both clerks are cousins on her mother’s side of the family and know exactly where you live in case you fail to stop by and pay the next time you’re in town. Or when you forget entry fees at the rodeo are supposed to be cash only and all you brought was three bucks and a checkbook. Big relief to see that your cousin is the rodeo secretary.
Hmm. We seem to do a lot of forgetting.
Being related to so many people can give rise to some interesting situations. Like the time my grandmother went to a wedding and the usher asked, "Relative of the bride or groom?" She said, "Both." Which really opens up the seating possibilities.
Obviously, there are down sides to tripping over a relative every time you take a wrong step. Some of us have been known to do things we’d just as soon not have reported back to our parents, or discussed at Thanksgiving dinner for the next twenty odd years. Like when we ran out of gas fifteen miles from home and had to walk to the nearest uncle’s house to bum a gallon at a time slightly past our curfew. Or lost the car keys at a rodeo on the opposite side of the state.
Or inadvertently arrested your wife’s cousin’s aunt on her dad’s side.
You see, one my cousins married a highway patrolman, who transferred to this area and moved to their ranch. Working for the highway patrol out here isn’t easy, what with the long, deserted miles and bad weather and occasional horrific car wrecks. But we’re pretty sure what finally drove him into early retirement was the frequency with which he was greeted at family gatherings by statements along the lines of: “How could you give my Aunt Pugs a ticket!”