My sisters and I have four first cousins. Our parents each had one sibling who married and had a boy and a girl. But like most of our parents, our Mum and Dad had cousins galore. Dad’s dad was the last of eleven.
Dad grew up in Launceston, and after his father Didds died (when I was a baby), our whole family would drive there two-and-a-half hours each way, in our small Fiat. This was about once a month - or so it seemed. Maybe it was more often, maybe less. We would visit Ibey and Dad would mow the lawn and collect the fruit from the trees, and generally be the handyman. Ibey didn't trust tradesmen so Dad was required to develop skills in many different disciplines.
One day recently I was asking Dad about the family tree, and he said off-handedly that Uncle Norm lived at Nº 9 such-and-such street Invermay - not very far from Ibey. I was flabbergsted - why had we never gone to visit when we were in town? Dad’s answer was there were just so many uncles, aunts and cousins its was simpler to visit none than to visit all.
Dad and Mum just set off for a few weeks visiting friends and family around NSW. Dad popped in just before they left to return my wheelbarrow and give me the latest printout of the definitive family tree, which he was sent by the official family genealogist John Cannon, the bushwalking columnist in the Mercury - a distant cousin of Dad’s.
Dad's parting words were that he was surprised to look through and see how many of his cousins have died. Dad is 77 this year.
Even though I only have 4 cousins and it is easier than it has ever been to keep in touch, I haven’t seen or spoken to any for at least ten years. And I suppose one day they and I and my sisters will also be part of an update to the family tree.