Monday night Burton and I went to Moncton to have supper with some of my Wetmore cousins.My Mom was a Wetmore; Iva Mae Wetmore which precipitated much teasing in her younger years.Mom had one brother Elmer and three sisters, Beulah, Luella and Lois.Three of Beulah’s kids, one of Luella’s , two of Lois’ and two of Iva’s kids attended. Dad was the only representative of his generation. It was a great evening of catching up , sharing memories , eating and laughing which of course is what makes up every good get-together. Yesterday my three cousins from Ontario( Buelah’s kids ) drove to Saint John to visit Mom in the nursing home. She lit up in their presence.Her face held a perpetual grin and even without speech it was clear she was enjoying their visit. Many years have passed since Mom held David who was the first nephew born and always the special boy. Mom held him in high esteem referencing the fact that she was 15 when he was born. Ivoo was the name he attached to her. To to sit with a ninety year old Ivoo and her precious seventy some year old nephew was magic. The bond of family, of aunts, uncles and cousins is a strong and priceless bond. On my drive home I thought a lot about cousins. If we are lucky enough to grow up with cousins close by or at least have a yearly connection, we have friends for life. These Ontario cousins of mine have not been a part of my adult life but the memories of earlier days and the strong thread our mothers tied us together with over the years keeps us connected. Only two of the four sisters are still with us and both have been distanced from us with cognitive impairment. But the love remains. The flicker of recognition, the twinkle of joy , the stamp of years of caring and attention is clearly visible.David told Mom ” You always called me on my birthday ” several times during the visit.I have a range of connection to my cousins ( 13 first cousins). There are a couple of them I keep in contact with regularly. I know their kids and grand kids , their dogs and cats.One I often run into at Costco,some I keep in touch with by e-mail or Facebook, a couple I see every few years,some I have not seen for a long time ,possibly only at family funerals and wouldn’t know if I fell over them. But even within that range of relationship lies the bond of being cousins. I picked up an old book of mine that Emma was reading this summer and the inscription said my cousins Greg and Wayne gave it to me Christmas of 1968.I know Mom and her sisters tried hard to pass on the closeness they had for each other to their kids, hoping that the cousins stayed connected. I now see my son and daughter and watch their kids fostering the cousin relationships and hope those relationships grow and flourish. I think of Burton and Louisa’s kids and the strong bond they have.I have heard it said ‘You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family’. Cousins happen upon us and we can choose to embrace that ready made relationship or not. Distance , time and circumstance sometimes keeps us apart but the bond remains. Happy birthday today to my cousin Larry who is a cousin on Dad’s side. Our closeness as kids faded and we lived our lives far apart but the last few years we have become aware of just how strong the bond between us remains. Larry , and son,his wife and her son have sat at our table twice in the last few years and I am thankful for that time together. We have held each other up with encouragement and caring.We walk different paths but the path we started on together remains.” You always called me on my birthday” seems like a small thing but in fact makes all the difference.