As a real young kid, I thought my Dad's family was large. I spent the summers at his parents' house and thus got to know his four younger sisters and their families (two were married at the time, each having two kids). As an only child, this, to me, was a large family, all living within biking distance of each other (one sister just a block and a half away from my grandparents' house, which was cool because they had a pool).
My Mom's side of the family though, seemed small. Partly because Mom's parents lived so far away in exotic Florida (I should note, that at the time, I was living in Brevard, North Carolina) and her only brother, lived somewhere in Michigan. Granted, he had five kids, but somehow, his family didn't seem that big.
All that changed when Mom and I moved to South Florida. Suddenly, Mom's side of the family exploded with people.
To begin with, we moved in with my Mom's aunt Freddie (making her my great aunt), sister of Mom's Dad. And over a few short years I met a great uncle (and for the remainder of this post, if the relation is via marriage, I'll add “in-law”; things are going to get crazy in a bit), Freddie's four kids (Mom's cousins, my first counsins once removed) and their families (first cousins once removed-in-laws, second cousins), parents and siblings of my first cousins once removed-in-laws (told you this was getting crazy) and my great uncle's kids and their families.
And then things got crazy what with divorces and what not. I mean, what do you make of the fact that my Mom flew out to Arizona to attend her father's sister's son's ex-wife's husband's birthday party? (okay, I could have simplified that as my Mom's cousin's ex-wife's husband's birthday party, but it wouldn't sound as crazy; then again, the fact that my great aunt Freddie went to the same birthday party (which would make it her son's ex-wife's husband's birthday party) just adds to the craziness).
After Mom died, I pretty much lost contact with Mom's side of the family. Everybody either lived in Michigan, Arizona or Montana, and I stayed in Florida. And there's some regret in that, if only because I never did get Freddie's recipe for cornbread (although I did get her recipe for fried chicken).
A cool thing happened on Sunday though—I received an email from my second cousin Rick Hill (a grandson of my great aunt Freddie). Just like that, right out of the blue, and I've been spending the past day or so getting caught up with (nearly) everybody. I was, however, sad to learn that Freddie died last October.