Nov 15, 2009

Retirement Plan

Even though it's horribly unoriginal, I'm thinking I may push for retirement in Florida.  That way I could be close to the cousins.  They came up from Florida for the wedding. Those of you who know me or who have read my blog know about “the cousins”. I can’t remember not knowing them or not being close to them. With the distance between Michigan and Florida I consider myself lucky to have that closeness.

The first memories I have of them are when I was five and I went to stay in Florida. It was 1967 and my mother had just delivered my sister and needed to have surgery to repair a heart valve. It’s hard to recover from heart surgery with a five year old running around so my aunt graciously agreed to take me in. She already had seven kids and must have thought one more wouldn’t make that big of a difference.

My sister was sent to stay with a couple who attended my mother’s church at that time. I later used this to my advantage, trying to convince her that she wasn’t really my sister. I explained that we had found her in a garbage can, asking why she thought there weren’t any baby pictures of her around. (I was a cruel big sister).

I have sketchy but vivid memories of my time in Florida. I remember walking to the school right down the road. I remember my kindergarten class was on the second floor. I remember having my first school Valentine’s party there. I remember the big open field with huge Georgia?? pines across the street from “the cousins’” house. I clearly remember a nightmare I had when I was staying with them. I was being chased by dinosaurs. In true horror movie fashion, I tripped and fell. I woke up in a cold sweat just as the ravenous dinosaurs were about to pounce.

I remember how awesome it felt to be part of that big, boisterous family, even if it was for just a short period of time. My experience up to that point had been that of an only child. I was precocious and I was used to being the center of attention. I had to make rapid adjustments in Florida. When I say the cousins I mean the girl cousins. I care about and have memories of good times with each of the four boys but it was the girls who took me in and made me feel part of the family.
I am close to all of "the cousins". But just as they are unique and different from each other, my relationship with each of them is different too.

Scarlet is the planner, the organizer and the leader. She is an eternal optimist and a can do type person. She is creative and imaginative. As the oldest of seven, she has perfected the mother hen stance. She is a pragmatist and a no nonsense person who tells you like it is. I admire Scarlet's drive and energy. I also feel a special kinship with her since each of us is the oldest.

Bonnie is the wild child and the free spirit. She is the originator of grand schemes that break with conformity. She is accepting of people as they are, valuing their strengths and weaknesses. Bonnie lived with my husband, kids and me for awhile during a failed attempt to become a Michigander. We all enjoyed it and were sad to see her go back to Florida. But we understood how strong family ties are. I feel free to be me when I am with Bonnie. To laugh, or cry and to say exactly what is on my mind.

Diana is silently strong. She is willing to sacrifice for others without hesitation. Other people do that to be the martyr or to get sympathy. She just does it because that's who she is. You don't notice it. Diana feels every emotion deeply. She loves nature and animals and is always up for a physical or mental challenge. Diana is comfortable with silence. Not many people are. I admire Diana's strength. When I was young I wanted to be just like her.

Every time I see them it's like no time at all has passed since the last time. We have that special brand of fun that comes from being family and friends at the same time. Thanks so much you guys for coming. The help you gave is much appreciated but, more importantly, your presence made it special because each of you is special. 


  1. Cherish those relationships. Far too often they don't exist. Families have drifted apart anymore. I think Florida sounds like an ideal retirement idea.

  2. We had a pretty tight family when I was a kid,but I haven't seen my cousins in over 40 years..You are fortunate indeed to hav remained so close.

  3. Family is such a wonderful blessing. I have many cousins, but have never been close to any of them. I am retiring near my children and grandchildren. When I get old they are the people I want to have near me.

  4. Rae - We make an effort to stay in touch.

    Sling - I count my blessings everyday, unless I get distracted, which happens sometimes.

    Mom - I picture us with two small condos, one near the kids in Michigan for summers and one in Florida for winters. And if things with my 401(k) don't turn around then we'll just by an RV and take our house with us wherever we go.

  5. I have that kind of relationship with my five's a beautiful thing! :)

  6. very interesting what you say about each of us. When you put it into words I see things I knew but never realized. You pegged us pretty good, and you left ut the bad stuff!
    We are very lucky to have the relationship we have, between the sisters and with the "Michigan cousins" I don't know how we reconnected over the years but I consider it a gift. We just clicked and it works, the best relationships are the ones that just work.
    Hey, Florida's great place to retire, especially to be a snowbird. Went to the beach yesterday,(just walking) it was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!
    P.S. mother hen??

  7. MHP - I'm so jealous, five sisters. I have one and we are very close. To have five must be awesome.

    Scarlett - What bad parts? And yes, mother hen. Close your eyes and picture yourself with pursed lips and hands on hips....

  8. I am jealous.....i do remember summers with my cousins in we email on occasions, she won't fly and I can't afford to...i am estranged from my brother but that is a good thing.

  9. Rosemary - Staying in touch is good whether in person, or by email. My sister and I are really close now but it wasn't that way when we were younger. We've mellowed over time and come to appreciate each other.

  10. Christine, I always thought it was you who was the originator of the grand schemes that break with conformity. I was the one behind you saying, do it, yeah, Im with you man, no matter what Scarlett says.
    Thats the way I remember it.

  11. B - your memory is going. You, are the grand schemer extraordinaire. I bow to your greatness.

  12. Lovely memories and family Random...

    You sound like my big sister "I later used this to my advantage, trying to convince her that she wasn’t really my sister. I explained that we had found her in a garbage can, asking why she thought there weren’t any baby pictures of her around."
    She used all her wiles to outsmart me when i was a kid...but out of all four of my sisters she is the one I am the closest to...she is a giver always. And for a little person she is solid in support. But she used to cane me when she played teachers...and i let her just so she would let me play...

    how long till retirement?