Since I began working on family genealogy, I'm thinking about extended family with whom I've lost touch. Some of them we (my sibs, parents, cousins and I) have tried to find, some we have, some we have not. One that my mother really wanted to find was her baby brother's widow and their children. My uncle died in 1972. He was young, just 54 years old. He had been battling cancer for several years, so it was expected. His family had made a rather lengthy trip around the country to visit family a while before he passed away. As I recall, it was around three years earlier. They came to visit us, my folks in my home town and Mom and Dad brought them to my house in Albuquerque. It was a nice visit, although he was very weak and tired.
Somehow after he passed on, we all lost contact with his family. I don't know why or how. My uncle was gone and his wife, of course, kept closer contact with her own family. I don't know if there were other reasons. I didn't have a sense of any problem between her and our family. I know my mom always spoke highly of her. The worst thing I heard her say is that my aunt and her family were different, coming from another part of the country (New York State), but she didn't say "different" as if it were bad. Just different. And Mom and my uncle were very close.
Through the years Mother had sent letters to old addresses and they were returned as they had moved. She occasionally heard about them living somewhere, would get an address, but it would be the wrong people. I remember her making a couple phone calls with the same result. In the 1990s, I tried to help her via the internet, but there wasn't as much of a "net" then or I wasn't as adept, and I had the same result. There were always too many by those names to be sure, and when we called or wrote, it was not the right ones. Mom finally decided my aunt must have remarried and had a different name.
Then my mom and dad died in 2000. I didn't even think about it for a while. When I did later on, my efforts were half-hearted, in part because Mom was gone and in part because my own life was in chaos with my husband's health and other issues. Then recently I've been thinking about that family again.
Today I spent a couple house online, googling the names of my aunt and cousins, then wading through scads of internet references to those and similar names. I found a number of references that I was pretty sure was one of the cousins, and yet every reference lead to basically a dead end. I could find no website or address that made sense. I retraced my steps, and perhaps I entered something differently, but all the sudden I was finding some references that made some sense. I found what I thought to be addresses for the two younger of the cousins, but I wasn't finding anything current on the older one. He is just four years younger than I, and I knew him better and hoped to start with him in reconnecting. I found a drivers license in the Chicago area that expired in 2003, and I was pretty sure it was him. I found older ones that were expired, too, but I couldn't find anything newer.
In exasperation, I went back to the google list and clicked on another entry, and I knew I'd found my cousin! The age was right, the name, including his middle name (his mom's maiden name) was right, and then I realized that I was reading his obituary. He passed away in 2004, almost two years before my husband. Cancer. Damn.
However, the information in the obit gave me enough validation of details about his brothers and, wow, my aunt, who was alive at that time! I knew now what I'd found earlier on them was accurate!
Next I found a Facebook reference to the oldest surviving cousin, and I sent him a message. On a lark I put the youngest cousin's name in and came up with him on FB, as well, so sent him a message, too. I haven't heard back from either of them yet, but I'm hopeful.
This is a picture of me with the eldest of the cousins, not the one who passed away in 2004, but the first of four boys. He died of pneumonia only a couple years after this picture was taken. I was 2-3 and he was perhaps just over a year in this photo.
I really to hope I can reconnect with this family. I'd love to see my aunt again if she is still alive. She will be 90 this year.
I'd like to get to know my cousins. I'd like to find out from my aunt what has happened through the years and how we lost contact. And I'm thinking about some other cousins that I don't know about any longer. Most of them are older than I am, so there is the increasing chance that they are gone. But I guess it would be good to know. I'll have to check with my brothers and see if any of them know the whereabouts of the cousins their ages.
Our world has become to fast paced, people move about more than ever, and it is really easy to lose touch. I wonder how many of their cousins my kids stay in touch with. Since we stopped having family reunions, I know the contact is less. That's sad. When I was a small child, all but one aunt and two uncles lived within 100 miles of us. By the time I was in my twenties, my cousins and I were scattered all over the US. Time marches on, we all march with it, and the ties are stretched to breaking.
Are you close to your cousins? Do you know where all of them are?