QC Blog: No worries!

Monday, September 7, 2009

No worries!

My alter ego, aka The Quilting Crusader, has been battling a bad reputation for the past two months. Google has been warning people away from my site, telling folks I could harm their computer, and Firefox was calling me "an attack site." However, The Quilting Crusader has won this battle, and come out on top, with a shiny needle and sparkling clean thimble!! In other words, I (with the help of my kids) have finally figured out the malware code that was lurking on my site and removed it. I am in no danger of doing anything bad to anyone and you can surf on my site with no worries.

I spent part of this holiday weekend with my extended family. So many things make up the fabric of a family. I am lucky enough to have 18 first cousins. We grew up together here in Pittsburgh, celebrating birthdays together (with 19 kids in the family, that means we saw each other almost every month) and visiting one another's homes during summer vacation. We had our phone numbers memorized and my cousins were the first people I called on Christmas morning to share what we got from Santa. There was always an annual Christmas visit (to see your decorations and play with your new toys) and we rang in the New Year together, banging pots and pans. We visited Kennywood each year and experienced some of the most fun moments in my childhood. I can still hear the clickety-clack of the Jack Rabbit, as every year, the youngest cousin would take their first ride on the roller coaster past our picnic pavilion. My grandmother would make iced tea and buy baked goods at Jenny Lee and we would run all day long. My cousins were my playmates and my best friends.

Each of us has a unique position in the cousin relationship, and we range in age from 62 to 24. My position as fourth oldest in the family allows me to see the dynamics in an interesting light. There were 3 born before me (2 of whom are my sisters) then a five year gap before I was born. After me, a child was born almost every year until 1970, when there was a small pause until 1974, then again until 1985. I am part of the "younger" set, but because my sisters were 2 of the 3 born first, I was privy to the older set also. I knew all the "secrets" the older kids knew, and was able to watch most of my younger cousins grow up. Age gaps that seemed large when we were little hardly matter now. We have relationships within our relationships. We've lived with one another, worked with and for one another, and as adults, shared grief and sorrow with one another. Our parents are the thread that tied us together.

As the genealogist in the family, I try to be the one who keeps us connected to the past, as well as the present. I collect addresses and phone numbers, keep track of people marrying into the family and babies who are born so I can create family trees that show how far we've spread over the years. And, of course, I take photos, whenever we're together, of the children, the families, and the cousins. We had one special occasion when 17 of us were in the same place at the same time. I corralled everyone to take a group photo (which wasn't easy). I added my other two cousins to the photo with digital technology from photos taken later that summer. Two of my most prized possessions are a collage I made of my cousins in 1975, when many of them were little, and the photo I made in 1995 with all 19 of us. One hangs in my sewing room, the other is in my living room.

Amazingly, even though there are so many of us, we are all still very close, and keep in touch in various ways, with phone calls and email, and most recently through Facebook. It's an interesting change to our relationships, that keeps us in touch without really conversing, but knowing what's going on by seeing photo updates of our lives.

I always count myself lucky to have such a wonderful extended family. It overflows with aunts and uncles and cousins who have enriched my life in so many ways. As our parents get older, and our own families grow up, the opportunities to see one another are less frequent, but I hope we never lose the ties that bind us.

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