Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Beloved Cousins, Too Soon Gone, By Sue Kinsella
I love this picture of us Taylor family cousins on Grandma and Grandpa’s stairs. It’s from Christmas 1957, and already there are more than 20 cousins in the family. There will be many more to come.
But what strikes me as I look at this picture is that already there are some of us gone. Bob Taylor, bottom left, responsible, holding Annie Taylor. Jack Taylor, smack in the middle, with his trademark big grin, “a smile so big,” the Irish would say, “it goes halfway down his back.” And Jim Taylor, top right, thoughtful, sensitive. We’ve lost beloved cousins on the Baker-Howland side of our family, too: Carol Ann Maffei, Wendell Henderson, and Joey Maffei.
This leaves me so confused. All these cousins were my family when we were kids. I was sure we all had grand and exciting futures ahead of us. So how could some be missing now? Where have they all gone?
There are many of my living cousins whom I haven’t seen for decades, but just knowing that they’re “there” is a comfort to me. It’s different with our cousins who have died. The fact that I can’t ever see them again changes the distance of those decades into painful confusion. I was too young when I knew most of them, or our lives took us in such different directions that we were out of touch too long. Now I so dearly wish that I could sit and talk with them and know them with more understanding.
Instead, I have to keep in mind that as we write and read all the wonderful tales on this blog about cousins and family, our cousins who left too soon are with us still – remembered in our stories, treasured in our hearts. We were lucky to have them even for too short a time.
Over the next few weeks, we will post memories about each of these cousins, and invite yours, too.
We’ll start with Carol Ann:
Carol Ann Maffei
Daughter of Leona Maffei, who is daughter of Lillian Howland, daughter of Kate Baker
March 6, 1943 – December 31, 1959
Carol Ann, always so full of energy and life, was the first to leave. I remember visiting Leona’s family when Carol Ann was 16. She ran down the hill in front of her house to greet us, so welcoming and excited to see us. How beautiful Carol Ann was, my mother remarked to Leona, and how sweet that she, herself, was unaware of it. Just weeks later, Carol Ann was diagnosed with leukemia. She died three months after that, on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1959.
Dorothy has said that her sister’s death changed the trajectory of many people’s lives. Even I, not yet 9 years old, was so deeply affected that I turned to writing, for the first time, to try to make sense of it all. My first-ever journal entry is about the evening I spent with Dorothy and Julie at Carol Ann’s wake.
We love you, Carol Ann.