Friday, 14 August 2015

It's Cool to Love Your Family

Throughout the 1960's and into the mid-1970's we lived in a terraced house in Walthamstow. Mum, Dad and me downstairs. My Aunt, Uncle (Dad's Brother) and Cousin upstairs. My Cousin and I grew up more like Brother and Sister, plus we each had what felt like a back-up set of parents on call at all times. My Uncle died suddenly in 1978 and my Cousin relocated to New York in 1988 with her job and has lived there ever since. My Dad passed away in 2007 followed by Mum in 2010. My Aunt, who has just turned 86 and is still very active, lives alone in East Ham, less than a mile from where she herself was raised. Her dozen years in Walthamstow was as far as she ever moved. My Cousin, who's now been married for 25 years, has three fantastic kids of her own (18, 15 & 12) and around this time every Summer, she brings the full New York contingent over to visit her Mum... and of course, her older Cousin.

As you'd expect, there are hundreds of photos of my Cousin and I growing up. This funny little shot is my favourite.

So by the time you read these words, I'll be down in London catching up with 12 months worth of family shenanigans, wondering just how much taller the kids can possibly get, introducing my Cousin's American husband to more fine British ales, confusing all and sundry with my English colloquialisms and doubtless eating my own body weight in unhealthy snack foods. I'm not sure what the plan is or where we're headed yet, but there's been talk of a trip out to Kew Gardens. Her mob have definitely never been there and the last time my Cousin and I visited the place was nearly 50 years ago, when we were dragged along, under protest no doubt, by our own parents. Something tells me that we'll appreciate the experience a lot more this time around.


John Medd said...

I can see you and I are very alike. As you get, ahem, older, your writing is becoming more personalised and with many more flashbacks to, and insights from, childhood: with references to family members who maybe aren't with us anymore and standout memories that we carry in our hearts forever. Sorry to be so maudlin on a Friday morning, but reading your entry today I was momentarily taken off guard and felt it could easily have been something I'd have written in a parallel universe. I'll get my coat.

Anonymous said...

It's also a blessing to have such a lovely close-knit clan (even if some of them live over 3,000 miles away!). I hope you all have a fantastic time. Enjoy them all. Feist is good, too.

C said...

Ah, what a great photo! Hope you've had a really great get-together by the time you read this - it sounds like you will - and Kew Gardens too (as you say, probably a very different response to it this time round...)

I'm not very family-orientated (but that's ok) - still, I can appreciate it must be very lovely to have those easy connections - enjoy!

I concur with John too about the childhood flashbacks - and I do love reading about them on everyone's blogs.

Brian said...

Hiya Swede. Hope the visit is going well. Kew Gardens and the company should be wonderful.

Old Pa's Corner said...

Nice memories TS..I used to live opposite the entrance to Kew Gardens for a couple of months..I am afraid that most of the people I grew up with Aunts, cousins etc are no longer around...getting too old

The Swede said...

John. Thanks for those kind words. After the '55 years' series of posts I thought I'd give everyone a break from my personal back pages, but every now and then another memory bubbles to the surface and seems appropriate to post. Needless to say, a few more cropped up in conversations with the family over the past couple of days that may one day find their way to these pages. If I could nail a thought half as well as you consistently do, I'd be very happy.

Singing Bear. My Cousin and I have always been able to pick up where we left off for some reason, even if we don't see each other from one year to the next. It must be the shared history of our early years.

C. I have to say that my family wasn't terribly close when I was growing up, just this little branch of it. There's much more to tell and I'll get back to it one day.

Brian. Kew was great actually. It was pouring with rain when we arrived, which thinned out the tourists considerably, but then the weather picked up and it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Old Pa. It's a sad fact that I think about every time I pick up a family photo album. All the people that have passed through my life that aren't around anymore. I just looked around and they were gone.

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