Tuesday, June 9, 2020

the counting

My brother's unearthing of some old family tree papers that I'd mislaid my copies of has inspired me to do something it had not occurred to me to do before: to count up my relatives.

Most people would think this unnecessary. Most people don't have a family like mine. I was raised with my parents and brothers, and with close contact with two sets of grandparents. But my parents were each raised as only children, and I have no first cousins of any kind. Further, we had moved, when I was very young, far away from any existing relations.

But my parents each had lots of aunts and uncles and cousins, and they've had children who are my second cousins. My parents had their own childhood backgrounds in close company with these people, but I did not. Some of them I've never met. Some I only met glancingly, once or twice. A few I'm on more friendly or relaxed terms with, even though I haven't seen them often. So I can put them in three classes.

I'm here excluding spouses, who complicate up the picture and for some of whom I have no information anyway; and in the first generation, some who died in childhood.

Father's side:
On his father's side, he had 7 aunts and uncles, of whom I only met two aunts, on a visit to the family when I was 20. On his mother's side he had 2 aunts, both of whom I met, and one of whom I was quite close to. (I stayed with her on my trip to my first Worldcon.) They're all now deceased, of course.

He had a total of 11 first cousins, of whom I've met I think 5, two of whom - by far the youngest - I've had extended interaction with, and they're the only ones I'm sure are still living.

And there's 11 from the third generation, my second cousins, and I believe I've only ever met two of those. I've had more interaction with a couple of my third cousins once or twice removed.

Mother's side:
On her father's side, she had 5 aunts and uncles, of whom I knew two aunts quite well, one of them especially after my grandfather was widowed and started spending his winters with her. I'd go and visit. On her mother's side she had another 5, of whom I met two uncles, one of whom I visited once in my early 20s, and he drove me past the Frank Lloyd Wright house he'd commissioned but had since sold. Now it's open for rental, and I was tickled when Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman mentioned they were renting an FLW house in Wisconsin which turned out to be my great-uncle's house.

She had a total of 13 first cousins - wow, no wonder I was never able to keep track of them all - of whom I know I've met 8, some of whom I knew well enough to feel comfortable with. But of those 8, only one, whom I've only met a couple times, is still living. Curiously, one of my mother's cousins on her father's side and one on her mother's side - so they were not otherwise related except that one's uncle married the other's aunt - married a pair of identical twin brothers. (I've met both.)

And there's 24 of the third generation. I'm only sure I've met 4 of these - I don't even have the names of all the rest. One of those I've met lives out here so I see him occasionally, and one of them lives in New York and I met up with him on both my last visits to that city.

So that makes 78 relatives. For someone who thinks of himself as relative-deprived as I do, that's a lot.

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