The Day the Cousins Came – Finding the Common Thread


I have a great many family photos in my home. Because my husband’s family took very few photos; because my husband tends to think I go ridiculously overboard with the number of photos adorning our walls, not to mention the number of albums taking up space on our bookshelves, I have tried to limit as many of the framed photos as possible to the tiny walls of my little office.

A few of the photos were taken professionally but most are candid shots of the people I have loved most dearly in this lifetime: my children, my Mom, my Dad, my husband. There is even a watercolour of me, done with great love by a dear friend who was taking a course in portrait painting, at the time.

One photo that causes my heart to squeeze especially hard, though, is a grainy, not-quite-in-focus picture of my Dad, posing behind a little oak tree that he and my Mom had planted in our backyard sometime in Dad’s final decade of a too-short life. Dad loved trees and over the years that he and Mom lived in that house, they amply planted quite a number of them in our lovely and extremely private back yard. The result was a cool and inviting oasis where my parents and their various house guests loved to sit and have a cold beer and catch up with one another as the lazy summer afternoons waned and the cool of the evening came on.

When Mom remarried two years after Dad died, she wedded another man who loved nature but alas, his penchant was flowers. My sister and I were heartbroken to come home not long after my step-father moved in to find all the trees that Dad had planted gone, replaced by a bunch of raised, round garden plots that – my sister told me – looked a lot like miniature crop circles if seen from the Google Earth aerial view. The backyard was awash with brilliant splashes of colour but without the shade of Dad’s trees, it was too hot to even contemplate sitting out. On hot summer days, Mom and my step-father took to sitting out in the garage instead.

A few weeks ago, two of Dad’s first cousins – who live on the other side of the continent and whom I had never met although we recently connected on Facebook – came for a whirlwind visit of their grandparents’ (my great-grandparents) home town. They had been teens the last time they came home (the year I was born, as it turns out), so they were grateful and happy when I told them I would love to help them find the various landmarks they recalled from childhood (I now live just down the river from where my Dad grew up). For my part, I was delighted: I learned more first-hand information about my great-grandparents in one day than I had in a lifetime.

What truly left me in awe, though, was the discovery of the ‘little’ things our bloodline clearly has in common: just like my great-grandfather who built his own moving cameras back in the early-to-mid 1900s, we all abhor trophy hunting (even as we concede that hunting for sustenance is not the same thing) and we all prefer to shoot an animal through the lens of a camera. We are all free spirits who lean significantly away from the conventional. We are all sensitive souls who avoid conflict and try never to make a scene, although we tend to have rather fiery tempers when riled up (a fact we discovered as we discussed our political viewpoints and discovered we would even vote the same way). But the one that really ‘got’ me was the discovery that just like me; just like my Dad, we all love trees: we all relish the primal, earthy smell of a forest; seek out its cool shade; feel grounded and energised just by being in the presence of a tree.

I live in an area where families stay put; where most folks can trace back their family trees – in person – for generations; where everyone is related to everyone else. My great-grandparents’ family splintered into a hundred different pieces a generation ago and now lives all over North America. Some family members I know of; most I do not. And yet, here we were, three long-lost cousins forming an instant connection and tracing back effortlessly through the decades to find so many similarities.

It is impossible for me to ignore the wonder of genetics. When I look in the mirror, I see my mother’s face staring back at me. When I gaze upon my children’s faces, there are Mom’s eyes, looking back. I have always understood that I inherited my sensitive, spiritual and introverted nature from my Dad – as much a part of me as the nose on my face. How amazing to discover that my love of trees appears to be as much a part of my ancestry as the colour of my eyes and the size of my feet: a more spiritual foundation of the family genome that has roots as deep as the trees we all love so much…

Source of photo

Patti Moore Wilson ©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

4 thoughts on “The Day the Cousins Came – Finding the Common Thread”

  1. What a lovely post and such a happy (and fulfilling) family reunion! And I’ll admit that while I adore the colors of flowers I will always gravitate towards the shade of a friendly tree ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had your way with words! I have the same desires you to put so many pictures on the wall everyone of them has so much meaning . And a husband who just doesn’t get it . So glad you had a wonderful visit with the cousins .

    Liked by 1 person

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