Recently I celebrated my birthday with some of my cousins. It was a wonderful occasion and one I will always remember. The day was particularly special because I am related to these people. We have some history and memories in common and we enjoyed reminiscing while we were together.
As a pre schooler I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother. Her husband died before I was born so I never had the opportunity to know my grandfather. I never knew any relatives on Dad’s side of the family as they lived overseas. This makes me feel deep appreciation for the extended family I am able to spend time with.
I recall spending time with my older cousins when I was a child, helping with collecting eggs, walking at the river or watching them play tennis. One of my cousins is my godmother and I was her flower girl. When I got married, the twin daughters of another cousin were my flower girls.
I remember one of my older cousins testing me on my spelling when I was in Junior Primary. She did art work and made detailed sugar Easter eggs. I was fascinated by the things she made. Today this cousin, now in her mid seventies, still does a lot of art work. She sells some of her paintings, sketches, hakea pod creations and honey biscuits in a gallery which is run by a group of artists.
Honey biscuit bee. Image:Marie Vonow
One of her sisters also sells her craftwork in the gallery. She specialises in making bird houses from recycled wood and tin. These bird houses have a rustic charm and it is lovely to see scrap tin and wood created into something aesthetically pleasing instead of being dumped.
Bird house. Image:Marie Vonow
A couple of my cousins particularly enjoy gardening. One of them gave me a miniature garden in a pottery bowl as a birthday present.
Miniature succulent garden. Image:Marie Vonow
Two of my cousins belong to a quilting group. One of them made a quilt for my mother some years ago. When Mum died I became the owner of that quilt and it has special meaning to me. Because owls are my favourite birds my quilting cousins both made owl material shopping bags for me as birthday presents. These useful, decorative and personal gifts will get much use.
Owl bags and quilt. Image:Marie Vonow
People we have known for most or all of our life are especially important to us as we get older. Family members with whom we get on well are a special part of our support system. People we feel close to are good for our health. They give us a sense of stability and security. I consider myself very lucky to have cousins I feel a close bond with.