My great-grandmother was one of three children, but that generation only produced one child: my grandmother. This means that Gram grew up with no first cousins. Her grandmother had a brother, and I believe he had a family, but I've never heard about that branch of the tree.
I grew up knowing that I had paternal cousins, that my father had two sisters who had children. I have a really vague memory of Jeanie and Jaime from my toddlerhood, and another when one of them came to visit my grandparent's house once with my Aunt Beverly. My cousin Beffer, Earlina's daughter, and I hung out for a few months when we were teens, but lost touch shortly thereafter. I know my dad was close to his cousin, Chuck who was married to Cookie and they had two sons: Chuckie and Tommy.
I have always assume that I have family somewhere, but we've had no real contact.
Serendipitously, I began working on a memoir this summer, and out of the blue I received an email through a long closed ancestry.com account from a woman claiming to be my cousin. We have exchanged several emails and she is indeed my cousin! And apparently I have dozens and dozens of cousins. Would they be second or third or removed cousins? I don't know. I do know that for a kid who was raised alone with little sibling or cousin contact, this is quite a boon. Thanks to Cousin Charlene, I now have a few new pics and an increasing amount of information about my father's side of the family.
This has opened up a whole new swirl of feelings and insights. I've renewed my search for my grandmother's childhood home in Ukiah, and I am pretty certain that it is the same house where my sister-in-law stayed during my daughter's wedding back in April. I've printed the census records and plan to dig a little deeper at the local library or government offices.
If we choose, the hubby and I can travel to Missouri next year for a family reunion. I have to admit that I am reticent about the idea of a reunion with strangers, even if I am related to them. I am very much enjoying corresponding with Cousin Charlene and digging deeper into my family tree.