Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Cunninghams and Berrigans Easter Egg Hunt
I have 5 cousins. That's it.

Steve has 65 first cousins. That's ridiculous.

Steve's parents were each one of 10 children, so do the math. My hubby does not even know many of these cousins, and has remained in close touch with none of them. Not to judge: I have no idea what I would have done with this largesse. What you have in abundance, you tend to take for granted.

Two weeks ago, Steve and I traveled up to Rye, NY to say goodbye to Uncle Gerry, Mom's brother. He lost a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer on a Sunday morning, and that Wednesday was his funeral. He was buried from the Church of the Resurrection, where he and Aunt Rosemary were married, and where he was a daily communicant for many years. My admiration for my uncle knows no bounds, and it was a privilege to be there with his children, three of my cousins: Meg, Gerry and Michele.

When we left the cemetery, we all went to Westchester Country Club for lunch. We were joined by my Uncle Jack, the sole surviving member of that generation of Berrigans. I can't imagine how Jack felt, all alone with memories no one else is left on earth to share. Jack and Gerry were as close as my Sheridan and Evan, and it tears at my heart to think of any of them without their "other."

At lunch, Meg and Michele told me that from now on they'd be relying on my sister and me as repositories of the Berrigan stories. This makes me panic a bit, and wish I'd written these tales, told often by Mom, down, rather than assuming I'd always remember. C has better recall than I do, but we're still woefully short of knowing the whole saga. Just being together that day helped bring back a few gems I thought were forever lost, and that's a very good thing.

My cousins are all younger than me, and their oldest children are the age of my youngest. We see each other, alas, mostly at weddings and funerals, and despite our vows to get the kids together it never seems to happen. This time, we swore on parting, would be different. We would see each other again soon, under much happier circumstances. And maybe it will happen. Who knows?
Uncle Gerry

What I do know is that we are all aging, faster than we’d like. We are now the older folks, the memory keepers. Those of us who don’t resort to the dye bottle (I do) have gray streaks; we all sport a wrinkle or two. As the years gallop by (Mom used to say that, for older people, the weeks become weekends), we need to lasso the moments and savor them. Savor the laughter, and tears, of a shared past. We are children of parents who had the same mom and dad. We are lucky to have each other, we cousins.

May I never take my cousins for granted.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for keeping track of so many good memories. Love and miss my cousins too!