Thursday, October 8, 2009


When I talk about family, I could go in so many directions - my friends, who are like my family, my father's side of the family (who could be compared to My Cousin Vinny), actually, I could probably go on for a while about my father. Or, I could talk about my mother's family.

Growing up in my family was almost like growing up in a commune. . In my family there's no "second" cousins, or "great" aunts, (just GREAT aunts).... there's barely a distinction between cousins and siblings, or parents and aunts/uncles. There certainly isn't any difference between full siblings, half siblings and step siblings.

We pretty much had free run between our homes, weekends were definitely spent at Aunt Judy's, or Aunt Mimi's, never at home. Sometimes even weeknights were spent there. And believe me, if you acted up at Aunt Lisa's, you got in just as much trouble with her as you would have with your mom, if not more.

I'm the oldest by 2 years, and the only one who doesn't have a cousin my age. If you ask my brother Mikey who his best friend is, he will tell you my cousin Joe. Bex will tell you that her best friend is our cousin Ange. My brother AJ- his best friends are our cousins Ar and Kev.

It wasn't until I went away to college that I realized that my family is not the norm. Not everyone had Aunts, Uncles and Cousins within grabbing distance. Until I went to college, I never found anything odd about this situation. My college friends didn't and still don’t understand why it is that I am just as attached to my extended family as I am to the family I live with. Even when people ask me to talk about my immediate family, I still can’t help but talk about my aunts, grandmothers and cousins.

I was the first person in my family to graduate high school with out first dropping out, let alone go to college. My graduation, which in any family is a big deal, was a BIG DEAL in my family. Fortunately, Spring graduation doesn't require tickets and anyone can go. I remember marching out, Pomp and Circumstance playing, people all around clapping and cheering for their grads as they walk by.

I look over, and there is my family. Cheering. Mom, Dad, Suzanne, Mommom, Nana, Aunt Judy, Uncle Joe, Bex, AJ, Chris, Aunt Lisa, Aunt Mimi - Ar, Christian, Nellie, Uncle Bo, Angela, Ryan, Mikey. 28 people in all - there to watch me graduate and cheer me on. And that was just the family who was old enough - the youngest of my cousins were at home with the rest of my uncles. My friends laughed and called it "The Girl Fan Club." They were curious as to why my "whole family" was there.

I laughed and explained that it wasn't anywhere near my whole family. And then I explained the universal truth about them - they are just as much a part of my as my mother and sister are, they have done just as much to shape the adult I am becoming, have become. I can't even fathom who I would be without them.


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