Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nachas: And More on the Joy of Cousins...

Nachas is a Yiddish word which means an extreme joy or blessing; a pride in one's accomplishments especially in ones children and grandchildren.

Yesterday I attended the funeral service of a dear friend's father. He was a Holocaust survivor. At a very young age he had lost his entire immediate family; both parents and four siblings. When the Rabbi spoke about his man's life he stressed how important family was to him; his wife, 4 children, 3 son-in-laws, a daughter-in-law, and 7 grandchildren...and cousins, be it first, second, or third cousins. The Rabbi spoke about how significant a role cousins play when your entire immediate family is lost in such a traumatic and devastating way.

Perhaps the importance of family, and specifically extended family, is lost on some. It is not, however, lost on me. I prattle on, excessively I am sure, about the magnificence of cousins. I love my cousins. All of them. There are the ones I grew-up with, the ones I watched grow up, and the ones I reached through research. 

Cousins aren't like siblings who rivaling for our parents' attention. They aren't like aunts and uncles who are typically older than us and can exert some authority. Cousins aren't like friends that come and go throughout our lives. Cousins are constants. Even if they have long stretches of absences, you know they are out there somewhere. They have a shared understanding about your family and provide an almost immediate acceptance. They are also the greatest genealogical resource you can ever find. Fellow genealogist cousins will provide you with insight into your common ancestor as well as help you unpuzzle how generations drifted apart.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending a day with my 3rd cousin's wife. I have not met my 3rd cousin, Chris, in person; I found him through genealogy research. His wife asked both him and I how we are related. He didn't know; but I know. His great grandmother was the sister of my great grandfather. And those siblings had to have been close because when my great grandfather died, my great grandmother went to live with Chris's great grandparents. In fact, my great grandmother is buried with then and not with my great grandfather. At one time there was a closeness.

At the end of the funeral service I hastened over to see my friends' kids; specifically their middle child who I am very close to. She was in tears; devastated by the loss of her grandfather. Initially I held her close. That was until her cousin approached. After a brief group hug, I stood and watch the two young girls hold each other and sob. Extended family really is the greatest gift you'll ever get and to that you can thank your grandparents; they gave you the potential for cousins - - and if they did not your great-grandparents, or great-great-grandparents did. Trust me, you have some degree of cousins out there somewhere.

When next you venture out into your family tree research, take a tangent. Research that 4th great uncle's kids, or that great-grandfather's niece. You'll never know the relationship you'll uncover.

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