Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 12: Cousins, aunts and uncles

4 x 7UP collageI’m not going to change the image I’ve posted in this collage but I am going off on a lateral tangent yet again. I had thought to write (even more!) about Magnetic Island but then I thought “why? I’ve done that to death”. Then in another of my midnight mental rambles I was thinking about relatives and so this post is about cousins and aunts and uncles.

Kunkels and Farrahers Cairns
My aunt and uncle, my parents and I, Cairns, Qld.

In the collage photo we were standing outside the Sunlander train, probably leaving Cairns for Brisbane. Earlier we had visited my aunt and uncle and cousins in Cairns where they were then living at the time. My uncle had something of a habit of changing bosses jobs and they moved from out west (Augathella comes to mind), to Far North Queensland, Tugun on the Gold Coast and Brisbane where my grandfather lived with them. At each move my uncle would chuck out my cousin’s toys and dolls…not exactly a therapeutic way of dealing with relocation.

army friends
Why is someone always doing rabbit ears?? My uncle is the cook in the middle (and possibly Mr Rabbit Ears).

Uncle Pat had been an Army cook for some time and been in Papua New Guinea during WWII. I’m lucky to have some of his photos which I found after my aunt died and without looking on the reverse (not all were annotated) I quickly realised they were from PNG. I hope to put these on my Tropical Territory blog in the near future.

My aunt and cousins
My aunt and two of my 8 cousins

His wife, Aunty Mary, was my favourite aunt. Sweet, kind with a quirky, cheeky sense of humour I always liked her. Mary’s daughter predeceased her and her son was far from well for many years and is now also deceased. As the eldest daughter, Aunty Mary was also privy to some of the family stories and shared (some of ?) them with me. Both before and after Mary’s death I was able to get scanned images of many of the family photos as well as my grandmother’s address book. As I cleared Mary’s house after her death I was able to ensure quite a few family “heirlooms” did not end up in the skip.

 Are you close to your cousins?

My grandchildren are enamoured with their cousins, and will hug and greet each other as if they haven’t seen each other for months, rather than only days before, regularly saying “I love my cousin.”

 My cousinly relationships are rather more haphazard. I was close enough to Aunty Mary’s daughter though she was a fair bit older than me. She used to paint my nails (purple) and let me have sleepovers at her boarding house when I was about 12 or 13.

My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.
My cousin Patsy (Patricia), named for her father.

Two of my cousins I have probably only seen three or five times. I wouldn’t recognise them if they walked through the door tomorrow. Their mother I would have seen only a few times more, though I would have recognised her if I came upon her. Her husband, again, I wouldn’t know from Adam.

But it was my male cousin from another aunt, with whom I have the closest long-term relationship rather than with his sister who was a year younger than me. We used to go ice skating together with our spouses and kids, and I’ve forgiven him for deconstructing my childhood Xmas toys to see how they worked. <smile> Their two much younger sisters, for one of whom I was the godmother, I also know a little, but life has taken us in different directions and to different places.

My non-cousin, daughter of my uncle’s widow’s second marriage, lived with us for medical reasons for about six months, but again we never persevered with our relationship. In many ways I think our longish time in PNG affected many of these family bonds.

(I do have photos of these cousins, but I don’t have permission to use them here as they are still alive).

Among my cousins, I was the only one of the first-born not named for their father.

For similar reasons Mr Cassmob has an even worse track record in the cousin stakes. In the decades that I’ve known him we’ve seen one of his cousins twice, some others only once: a consequence of his living far away from them. Another we met up with in Dublin years ago: they both thought “how will I know him” and found it no problem because both so resembled their fathers!

 Did you have close relationships with aunts, uncles and cousins? Are you still friends rather than just relatives?

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

11 thoughts on “Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 12: Cousins, aunts and uncles

  1. As a child I was fortunate to visit Great Aunts so I often bumped into Cousins. It was during these conversations with the Aunts I gathered info of my ancestry & now I have more details than their Grandchildren. Our family connection, despite the miles is strong, & I know that if I ever had a problem (or they had one) I could pick up the phone for help & it would be given. Many of my Cousins are on Facebook, which does enable us to share the trivial bits of our lives. Incidentally, the cousin I talked about on day 8 I think of the festival, is on Facebook & I sent him a message, so watch this space!


    1. It’s so interesting how families come together isn’t it? I only had a small handful of aunts and even fewer great aunts. I learned the most from the aunt I mention in this story. Of the three aunts, only one lived “near” us continuously but without a car it was a trek to see them. I look forward to hearing how your FB message turns out.


  2. Pauleen, This was such a good post that had much food for thought. Of my Sigford cousins, there were only my uncle Clem’s 4 children and there was very little contact when we were children, and rather sporadic and unsatistfing contact as adults. I guess you have to make those bonds fairly early for any longevity. On the McPherson side, we had 7 cousins with whom we were very close — and only 2 remain. Thankfully we are still close– and also close to the two surviving Aunties. I am really enjoying your Fab Photo challenge –wish I had more time to read.


    1. It’s interesting isn’t it how our relationships with cousins depend so much on geographical proximity and the chance to bond early, plus an element of simpatico I think. Heaven help Darwin when the three small cousins are let loose at teenagers, assuming they’re still here in 15 or so years! A great deal depends too on just how many siblings your parents had and whether they got on (at least one pair of mine didn’t). Like you I’m wishing for more reading time -the post-a-day is keeping me busy even though I’ve got a few in the scheduled pipeline.


  3. I have gotten one day ahead in the posting. Working on posting everyday really does cut in on the reading and commenting time!

    I have 3 cousins on my mother’s side. the two oldest were close to us in age, lived a few blocks away when we were growing up, were girls and we spent almost every Saturday at our mutual grandparents house. My sister and I were close to them. I remained close as long as we all lived in Detroit but only kept up with one after we moved. There was one cousin much younger than we were. since fb I’m in touch with 1 of them and with several of her children. 1 hates fb but has started calling me off and on. The middle sister who I used to write to a lot and visit whenever I was in Detroit has memory and vision problems now and we have fallen out of touch. None of our children know each other at all.

    On my father’s side there were 7 cousins. They were younger than me and the oldest 3 were boys. We saw them but we weren’t that close. When we moved to Idlewild where several of my cousins had summer places, we got back in touch and our children really got to know each other and we did too. We are all still in touch via fb and so are our children. I was close to two of my aunts on that side after I grew up and I would go see them if I was still in the area. They are in their 90s now.

    Sorry for writting so much. I could have done a blog post on cousins too. Of course I’m fairly sure none of them will read this here.


    1. I’m finding it so interesting learning more about how others connected with cousins. Very few of my similar-age friends, let alone family, do FB and I’m not a huge fan but I’m enjoying it more now connecting with my genie buddies. I do think distance, and age, make a big difference. It must have been nice for you to spend so much time with your cousins at your grandparents’ place. It’s nice though that you reconnected via Idlewild and built up a 2nd generation connection. Long comments don’t bother me a bit as you might imagine 😉


    2. I also know what you mean about keeping up ….we’ll be spending March reading. I’ve done a pile of mine because as of next week we have lots of stuff going on with family visits and events so I was trying to catch up. Not that browsing newspapers is helping with that goal, still I’m a week ahead now.


      1. I am piling them up too. I will do some posting in March but since I signed up for the A-Z challenge, I think I will have to work on that in March if I’m going to get through it in April!


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