Families come together during hard times
I recently made the trek back to Western Kentucky for my cousin’s funeral. My cousin Amy Don died after a courageous battle with brain cancer. I had not seen Amy in years. Thanks to Facebook and social media, I still felt I could keep up with her life, children, and family.
I’ve got a big family on my mama’s side. My mom was one of 11 children, and there were 23 first cousins. I am the youngest in the line of first cousins. Growing up, Amy and I weren’t close; she was four years older than me, and while that doesn’t seem like much of a difference now, it certainly did when we were kids. But what Amy was, like so many of my cousins, was family.
Our immediate family has been struggling for the last several years, with my dad‘s health declining faster and faster, and he and my mom moving to Alabama to be closer so we can take care of them. Families have always been important to my mom, and she instilled that value in me. My mom and my uncle Bill are the last two of the 11 siblings. My uncle Bill is 91, and my mom will be 86 this spring. She is in excellent physical health.
During hard times and crises, family comes together. Of the 23 first cousins, eight have passed. Out of the 15 of us who remain, nine were there to honor Amy. So many of us had not seen each other in years. We gathered in Kentucky from four states.
It was important for me to take my mom to the funeral for her to be able to connect with her family, and I was looking forward to seeing so many of them as well. But what I’ve seen with my mom is what happens and the impact when you were separated from family and the sadness and the yearning from not being able to visit them often.
Attending the funeral for me was about honoring my cousin but also honoring my mother, helping her with the medicine she needed, and visiting her family.
They had pews reserved for family members, and all of us cousins and Mom and Uncle Bill sat in the three back rows. Amy had a huge family: Two sisters, three children, her husband Johnny of 37 years, and her mother, my aunt Sharon, along with all the family on Johnny’s side. I list all of those because it’s important. After all, what the day showed me was just how much family matters.
I thought about had it not been through the blessing of adoption, I would’ve missed all of this. I wouldn’t be the youngest first cousin, and I wouldn’t been able to sit in the family section.
I wouldn’t have been able to reconnect and have conversations with people who were my family, or picked up just where we had left off. I am grateful for my family. It makes me see the importance of family and confirms why I work so hard to give other kids the chance to have a forever family like I’ve been blessed with adoption.
Hopefully, it won’t be another funeral that brings us together. Until then, I am thankful for the beautiful service to honor Amy and her legacy and how her family’s legacy showed up to send her home.