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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Keeping Score
By Ed VanDeMark


Keeping Score

At the height of things I had twenty six living first cousins. Two of those first cousins are also second cousins or cousins once removedÖIíve never figured which it is. My motherís sister married my fatherís uncle. What ever they are Gladanne and Dusty are good people and I call them cuz. My father on the other hand had a more difficult relationship with them. He was both their cousin and their uncle. They usually called him uncle because he was twenty three older than Gladanne and almost thirty years older than Dusty.

Twenty two of my cousins have kids, and most of them have grandchildren and one or two may be great grandparents. I think Iím related to half the east coast and we may have a secure foothold on the left coast as well.

My great aunt Fanny (my motherís, fatherís sister) boasted that everyone with her maiden name was related. That was until the great state of Illinois executed someone with the name and suddenly not everyone was a relative.

Virginia and I go to the same church and she calls me cousin and I like being related to her, but we must be something like nineteenth cousins or cousins eighteen times removed. Her grandfather was related in someway to someone named Elmina in my family line. My grandmotherís name was Elmina but the Elmina he was related to was someone so far back I never heard Grandma talk about her. The other possibilities are she was someone Grandma was ashamed of or she (the first Elmina) was so nice Grandma was named after her. I do know that Grandma wasnít exactly fond of her name, so maybe she was just a little bit upset with Virginiaís grandfatherís relative. What ever the case Iím pleased to have a cousin as nice as Virginia.

If you grew up in a small town youíve no doubt learned not to bad mouth anyone. Thereís about a 67% possibility youíre talking to their cousin or their cousin seven times removed. There are redneck jokes that focus on the South, but if you live in any small town anywhere and you date someone from your high school thereís a good chance youíre kissing cousins. Iím not sure how many times removed it has to get to make it okay but in my town we keep score way back. Except when the great state of Illinois or the great state of New York, or Pennsylvania or West Virginia takes particular offense to someoneís relative, in which case they aintí kin any longer.

Jesus knew his cousins all the way back to Cain and Abel and he didnít chop off the Cain branch. After Noahís kids Shem, Ham and Japheth the relatives started looking a little different. Some were white, some black and others yellow yet Jesus continued to count everyone as family. Jacobís tribe of twelve could have given Jesus just cause for being highly selective concerning who was in and who was out of the family, but he kept including them. So I guess I gotta do the same. I donít have to like what some of them are up to but I canít just go around lopping off cousins because they donít live up to my particular standard for that week. Only a hypocrite would wear a WWJD bracelet and do that sort of thing.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
The cousin confusion in your first paragraph is great "first cousins are also second cousins or cousins once removed." Your family is huge! I love the "suddenly not everyone was a relative" and the "kissing cousin" comment. :) Great title for this and perfect ending lesson for this cousin piece!
I really liked this. I grew up not knowing any cousins and never knew I'd missed anything until as an adult I moved to a small town where everyone is related, where everyone is family. I had one student I tutored who was really into genealogy. We used to play a game where I picked a random name from the phone book and she would draw a chart showing her relationship to that person. She rarely failed. Thanks for stimulating some great memories.
Marilyn Schnepp 06/15/08
Wow! I do believe you're related to half the east coast! I thought I had alot of cousins - but you take the cake! Nice job and interesting read; and keep scoring - writing-wise! (*.*)!

(I'm grateful for your encouraging comment about my being "very important dust"...because Jesus died for me. ) Many Thanks!