They Look Familiar. We Must Be Related
THERE ARE ONLY TWO TIMES when families get together en masse – weddings and funerals. Nobody got married this week. After the departed is laid to rest everyone gathers together and tells stories. They also try to figure out who are those little ones who have grown so tall since the last gathering.
There are always new babies to look at and questions asked about anyone who isn’t there. There is also someone trying to explain how and who is related to whom.
“Hiram over there is your third Cousin, twice removed, and married to Lulubelle who is actually the sister in-law to your Aunt Fedora Mae. Got it?”
“But who is that man sitting over there by the potato chips?”
“I don’t know. I thought he came with you.”
This week has been like that. Family members from Alaska to Indiana were there and I had no idea who half of them were. My attempted solution was to listen in to The Great Explanation of who is who. My head now hurts and I’m no clearer on anything. I’m not even sure who I am anymore.
Now, I am reasonably bright and I understand basic family structures: Mommy, Daddy, Aunts, Uncles, and so on. It is when the branches on the Family Tree start reaching out and there are twigs out there that are so fragile they wouldn’t support a hummingbird. I have Cousins I’ve never met and wouldn’t know if they came up and bit me. And then, in an effort to totally confuse me, a new shoot appears off of the Family Tree trunk that is all about those Cousins who are “Removed.”
“Yes, that lady over there having a sandwich is your Cousin Esoterica. She is your third Cousin, twice removed.”
I translate that to mean “She is a complete stranger.”
During the Great Explanation a young man who was downing a plateful of cheese cubes was labeled as “Your Second Cousin, once removed,” Then someone else piped in with, “Doesn’t that make him just my Third Cousin” That brought everything to a screeching halt as heads were scratched and I reached for a Tylenol.
I think the only way to clear up all of this confusion might be a massive DNA test. We could call in Maury Povich to handle the announcements of who is related to whom and who is someone who just wandered in from the street looking for a quick meal.
I tried to visualize what a chart of the Family with all of the various relatives and connections would look like. The closest image I could come up with was a mound of spaghetti – al dente. And we are not Italian…unless those are the Cousins who have been removed.
On my side of the Family things have always been much simpler. There weren’t that many people who were free to travel across state lines and some members would simply disappear without notice. All of that made for gatherings and reunions that could be held in a booth at Denny’s. One thing my side of the Family does have is Cousins who are “Removed” Any number of my family’s Cousins have been removed, usually by force. Perhaps I shouldn’t delve too deeply into that. After all, I am considered one of “The Removed” by many people in my family. Or should be.