Cousin Love

Cousins are the first best friends. They are usually close in age, have similar family histories, and, if they grew up close by, share multitudes of childhood memories and antics. Distance and time have a hard time untangling the ties between cousins.

Cousins flood my dad’s family. On the Truglio side, Dad had twenty or so cousins. I am the eldest in a line of eighteen and my kids hold close relationships with their thirteen cousins. Then there are the second and third cousins, as well as the cousins on the other half families. They were and are gentle and fun-loving people. It is a wonderful village.

Mom’s side of the family was not so prolific or kind to each other. From the stories told, my grandmother and her sisters used their children as pawns to inflict unsaid conflict and pain. Not nice.

Mom has one cousin, Jean, she keeps close to her heart. The contrast between them should have allowed them to easily drift apart, but cousin love bound them for decades. Ten years separate my mom, Diana, and her cousin Jean. Diana had two older brothers. Jean was an only child. Diana’s father died when she was eight years old. She held onto and searched for his essence for the rest of her life. Jean’s father was a WWII veteran, who did not meet his daughter until he returned from war when she was almost three years old. He was the sweetest, kindest, and most patient dad, grandpa, uncle anyone could ever want. Diana’s mother had a hard heart . Her love involved rules, deeds, and conditions. Although Jean’s mother was prone to rantings, like her older sister—all the sisters —Jean always felt safe and loved.  

Through the years and differences, Diana and Jean remained loyal to each other. Each time they met, they reached for each other’s hand, sat next to each other, laughed, cried, rehashed stories, and gossiped together. Today, Diana is facing the end of her eighties while Jean is just starting. They are the old friends who pick up the conversation where they last left off. 

Last week, Mom and I drove out to Staten Island early in the morning to visit Jean and her family. Jean and her daughter’s family share a lovely home. Jean’s husband, Tony, always sweet and gentle, has not been well. It was good to see him and visit with the family. 

Mom and Jean sipped coffee, nibbled on the pastries we brought, and caught up on their news and memories. 

Mom commented on what a pretty baby Jean was—small, blonde, and always clean (Jean’s mother’s obsession). 

“She was my living babydoll,” claimed my mother. The baby must have been her first experience holding and loving a baby. Instant love.

“And Diana was so beautiful and glamorous,” claimed Jean, “I loved watching her put on lipstick.” 

Mom laughed. Lipstick was the only “glamorous” tool in her cosmetic bag.  

Afternoon arrived quickly. The predictable traffic would soon pile up on the Belt Parkway. We left with kisses and a promise to visit again soon. Cousin love is that strong. 

Enjoy ❤️.   Like 👍.  Share 😊. 


Work for Peace

You have a voice


Hope you are hungry. Becoming America’s Food Stories recalls the tales that have been told around my family’s dinner table. The histories explain the motivations over bowls of macaroni, antics play out while slurping soup, and laughter echoes throughout the dining room. Pull up a seat. There’s always room.
The Heart of Bakers and Artists is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 1911. The story follows nine-year-old Lily, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, who wants to prove she is not a little kid. To be a big kid in the crowded tenement neighborhoods, she must tackle bigotry, bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and learn to cross the street by herself
The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists left off.Lily has big dreams to sing out with her powerful voice, but must do EVERYTHING, since Mama fell into a deep depression, the baby is sick, and the “Black Hand” terrorizes the neighborhood, threatening her chance to sing at the New York Highlanders Fourth of July baseball game.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.

8 thoughts

  1. So beautiful…cousins are first friend….even if you meet them after years…it is almost like there was no time gap between the meeting….as if you know each other so well….as you grow up sometime you move apart…this post belies that….wonderful…more such ❤️

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    1. The pull is so strong. I feel blessed that I know my cousins, grew up with many, and had recently rediscovered long lost kin.
      Thanks for reading

      Like

  2. Antoinette, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. So lovely to read how you and your Mom visited Jean and her family. I agree with you cousins are the first best friends. I feel blessed to grow up with many.

    Liked by 1 person

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