When I was a little girl my biggest joy was to visit my Auntie Von, even though she was a strict one, and play with my cousins, Mark and Maria. The best play time was when she created a mud puddle in the back yard and let us get in. Oh, yeah. Mud, glorious mud ....
That's me on the right with the pudgy tummy and those sartorially splendid khaki shorts! My older brother is behind me and my cousin, Mark, always the ring leader, on the left.
My Aunt loved showing this photo whenever I visited her home as an adult! Does everyone have a photo like this that haunts them through life????
Who would have thought that the ring leader would dance with the Australian Ballet and my brother would become a leading microbiologist with CSIRO ... there's certainly no evidence of their future potential as we slop around in the mud. I remember being hosed down quite severely to remove the mud secreted in any possible orifice.
Another favourite past-time at my Aunt's was for Mark and I to decapitate Maria's dolls and bury them in never-to-be-found-again spots in the yard. This activity did not sit well with Maria or my Aunt ... but ... well ... Mark and I thought it was fun. And I'm sure future archaeological digs will be fascinated by the treasures they unearth.
And here we all are again at a momentous occasion in my life, my third ?? birthday party. Mum had dressed my sister and I in our best. She would have made every piece of clothing we were wearing, including our knickers ... which always had elastic soooo tight it cut off the circulation to our legs. I am surrounded by my cousins and neighbours from nearby farms. I remember a Humpty Dumpty cake ... which mum would have made from scratch too.
That's me in the front row clutching a straw and what must have been Wimmers sarsaparilla. I'm not letting go of that rare treat! My older-and-wiser sister is beside me, dressed like my twin. People often thought we were. You'll notice the death grip she has on her sarsaparilla as well. Soft drinks were a delicacy, an expensive delicacy.
See my sister's smile ... that's her when-can-I-take-these-killer-knickers-off smile. I've obviously lost all feeling in my legs and am distracting myself with thoughts of cake and candles. My cousin, Maria is in the pram, totally bemused by something behind us and her brother, Mark, is far left front row ... probably concocting ways to capture and torture her dolls when he returns home.
And then, as we grew older our lives went in disparate directions. Mark flew off to exotic locations to dance and meet the Queen. Yes, THE QUEEN .... Elizabeth 11... the Royal one!!! And mix with all manner of other celebrities. I went to Uni, became a teacher, went bush, came back from the bush .... Maria became a librarian and went west, came back from the west ...
And then, the only time our paths crossed were family funerals in our old home town where we would sit around and reminisce ... laugh, drink tea and sometimes wine. You know how that happens???
And then came Facebook ... and a reconnection of cousins. A friend request from Maria. "Why don't you come up to FNQ and have a holiday?" I wrote. And, after years of separation, we connected as though there had been no time apart. It's amazing how a shared history and genetics can create such strong bonds.
My father and Auntie Von had a very strong bond. The young ones from a family of 13. Yep, you read it correctly 13! As a young girl I used to calculate how long my Grand-mother had been pregnant in her life. Do the maths ... you'll be amazed. I know I was!
My father and his sister, Von shared many sibling secrets ... catching the cat while fishing off the top of the shed was the one I remember hearing most often. In dad's last years, his request was always to visit Vonnie, his much loved sister and my Aunt. So, I suppose, it's not surprising that my reconnection with Maria was so easy.
After spending two stints of three weeks together this year, we recognise that we share the same face shape, the same jowls (which both of us would love to have fixed!), the same sense of humour, the same love of wine and cheese ...
... strangely, that's tonic water in that photo. Don't know how that happened!!
The same love of the bush, rain forest, beach ....
(Yep, I'm still wearing my purple Birkenstocks!) We've had so much fun we've vowed to get together again next year.
Have you got a long lost cousin to reconnect with???? I'm so glad I reconnected with mine.
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