I can’t describe the feeling. It is a little thing – but a great big thing to me.  My cousin came to help me out (like she always does) for the Anansi event a couple of weeks ago.  She’s always there for me, bright and early – even if I am late – to help me out and often times take the lead when I am not able to get it together.  We make a good team, she and I.

So the other day, I took her up on her, “bring the kids any time,” offer and went to drop them off so that I could go to a pre-screening of the family centered dramedy “People Like Us”. I had nowhere to park, so I shooed the kids out of the car and watched them run up her front steps.  I had called her and told her I couldn’t park so she peeked out the door and waved.  Wait a minute – she had on a SocaMom.com t-shirt… She was wearing the shirt I gave her.  I felt like she had just given me a hug.  She was on my team.

 

 

It is a little thing to some people, but to me it is a big deal. See, I really look up to her.  She has her oldest son headed off to college with a great GPA, and his sights set firmly on medical school, her next oldest is such a lady, her next has a beautiful heart, and her youngest – who is just two weeks younger than my youngest – is a rambunctious sweetheart who can talk you into just about anything with the tilt of his head and a smile.  She and her husband raised these great kids with so much patience, love, and understanding that I can honestly say, her family is my picture of the ideal Caribbean American family.  They have the right mix of old school Caribbean child rearing, and the new fangled parenting style (you know… listening to the kids, letting them have opinions, stuff like that) so that they raise good, smart, respectful children.

She is honest with me when she shares the bumps in the road that she has, and doesn’t condemn me when I have some bumps of my own. Her doors are always open, and calls to her rarely go unanswered.

I grew up away from my extended family. We didn’t live in DC for long after my mom graduated from medical school, so I left a few distant family members up here – that I didn’t even meet until I was a teenager.  I had a total of 2 cousins in Queens, and as far as family in the US went, that was it.

When we got married, hubby wanted to stay in the DC area.  I didn’t get it. He wanted to be close to family… well, um, why?  I never was, and I turned out just fine!  I think.  Well, you don’t know what you are missing if you never had it.  He grew up around cousins, uncles, and a slew of other relatives.  I found that a little strange.

When I found out my cousin lived in the area, I was thrilled. I had other relatives, 3rd, 4th, 5th cousins and so on, that I knew, but there is something about looking into the face of a first cousin raised by two totally different people than you were, that somehow still looks a lot like you! She and her husband welcomed us and our growing family into their lives as if we had always been there.

There was something that I didn’t get to understand about family growing up in the little bubble that was our house with just us four.  Family supports you.  They build you up, hold you up, and sometimes help you up – but if they are family, they will be there.  So without being near my blood relatives for most of my life, I still turned out alright.  I DID have family.  When I thought about it, I grew up surrounded by family.  I had southern Aunties who fed me and kept me in line, couple of additional moms and dads to keep an eye on me when my parents were working, and several BFFs from elementary school, high school, and college who were the cousins and siblings that I could get into mischief with.  I did have family.  Still didn’t understand the hubby’s need to be near his though.

Then we started talking about moving. Each time we would find a house that we like, hubby would ask, “what do you think cuz would think about this place?  There’s something here for sale up the street from this one.” He smiles when he says it, knowing that the last near decade of living near my cousin has changed me.  Family is necessary.  Family is there for you.  Family wears your t-shirt and plays their heart out for your team…. and you for theirs.

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