Someone on a blog recently mentioned how many cousins their wife had. I have a few from my father’s side, mostly older than me. On my mother’s side, however, there are hundreds. Dad’s family emigrated to the US in 1904. Most of his relatives are scattered across the remnant of the British Empire. Mom’s side has been in the US a lot longer and mostly located in the southern half of Illinois.

I have more cousins than I know of and have never met most of them, scattered as they are. By accident, I came across the website of my old home town’s newspaper. It used to be a daily paper. The only one in the county and contained all the local, state, national and international news for the day, hot off the wires of United Press International and the Associated Press. Now, it’s a weekly. For a short while during High School, I was a staff photographer covering all the town’s sporting events and the highlights of local occurrences. Read that as covering all the local car accidents, fires and such.

Be all that as it may, I discovered the paper’s website and saw the obit for one of my cousins, Donna Marie. She was a few months older than me and we attended grade and high school together. She was my only cousin that I was close to and knew well. We were second cousins as best as I could calculate. Her grandmother and mine were sisters.

She grew up on another farm about four road miles away on the opposite side of Illinois route 37. Most of the eight kids in our grade school class lived on the western side of route 37, but Donna and her younger brother lived on the eastern side. A couple of times a month, during the summer, Donna would ride her bicycle over to our farm, gathering up Mary Ann or Jeanie, along the way, maybe Silas or Alan too. Then, we’d all head for Helen’s Ford to go swimming. Donna also had a small bay gelding and she, along with Mary Ann and Jeanie would go riding along the gravel roads in our area.

After high school, Donna, like most of us, went to Southern Illinois University. She met her first husband there, marrying hurriedly to a soldier on leave out of basic from Ft. Leonard Wood. She returned home a few months later, pregnant. He didn’t return from Viet Nam.

I was in the Air Force when this happened so I don’t have all the details, only that passed along by my father. Donna married again several years later and had two more children.

She died on July 13th at age 62 of melanoma leaving three children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.

I hadn’t seen Donna since before my father died in 1983. She wasn’t very tall, slightly over 5′ and slim like her grandmother and mine. She outlived two husbands and died in the same farmhouse where she was born. I’m surprised just how much her passing has affected me.

Goodbye, Donna, ’til we meet again.

1 thought on “Cousins

  1. Sorry for your loss. Yeah, we're getting to that age… sigh… Found out that at least 4 of my high school friends/acquaintences have died in the last year. Family is still pretty healthy though!

Comments are closed.