|My father when he was about 3 years old. He was outside the home he was born in.|
In his life story that he wrote before he died, my father noted that he was “one of nine children” of his parents. His oldest sister died of pneumonia when she was four years old, he wrote, but the rest of the siblings lived to be 60 or over.
He never knew his oldest sister because she died before he was born. He was the sixth of the nine children, and he grew up with two older brothers, two older sisters, two younger brothers and one younger sister.
On Sunday, I received word that his younger sister had died. Only one of the nine is still living, my father’s youngest brother.
I’ve been thinking about my extended family.
My father’s family was quiet but friendly. When I was a child, I preferred visiting with my mother’s family because there were cousins around my age to play with. On my father’s side, I was the youngest grandchild. The cousin closest in age to me was about six years older, but she did play with me when she was younger.
I remember how we got together at Christmas every year, usually at the house of one of my uncles. He worked for Dr. Pepper, so we always drank Dr. Pepper when we visited him.
I remember as a child staying with my aunt, the one who just died, when my brother had to be in the hospital for a few days. She and her family lived in Lynchburg. I liked walking up and down the city street with my cousin and playing in their backyard.
By the time I grew up and moved away to go to school, the family get-togethers were fewer. Gradually, I saw family at the reunions that I occasionally attended or at funerals.
I’m been thinking about the passage of time, how those family gatherings were so long ago. I’ve been thinking about my grandparents, raising their children on a farm, tragically losing one daughter at such a young age.
I suspect that many of you have similar stories of family, of growing up with aunts and uncles and cousins, of losing family members with the passage of time.
It’s the way life works. I know that.
But it still makes me sad.
I have a large extended family. How about you? Did you have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins growing up?