BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA — At my Aunt’s funeral, my cousin hugged my sisters and then extended his hand and introduced himself to me. I looked into his eyes to see if he was jesting but, no, he wasn’t. He really did not know me.

Sister Joan & Cousin Dev

He had prepared a video presentation of his mother’s life. Memories flooded back as did feelings of belonging to something more than myself. I belonged to a family. The pictures showed moments of long ago. Family dinners, outings, vacations, birthdays, holidays. We were all there sharing our lives with each other. To be certain, there were times of sorrow, but I always sensed if the need arose, then personal issues would be set aside and as a family, united, we would support and sustain one another.

I have now spent more time away from my family of origin than I spent with them. Those I once felt to be such an integral part of my life have become strangers to me. The unknown consequences of marrying a man from a different country and culture have become very known. My “family” continued on with their weekly get-togethers. No doubt, my name was occasionally brought up in conversation. “What is Pamela Jo up to now a days?” I became a distant relative that others needed to identify through family member tag.

Mother Bonnie, Cousin Sherri Ann, Sister Carrie, Sister Joan

Being the youngest of my generation, I often felt like the little pest. Occasionally I was humored and taken on car rides or allowed in the room when they “talked,” but mostly I tried to be invisible so I wouldn’t be asked to leave. In the end, I stopped trying to be a part. I left.

Once again, I understand that you can’t really have quality without quantity. I missed out on so many shared memories. I missed birthdays and weddings and funerals and daily celebrations of life, but so did they. We missed each other and in our shared grief and shared memories, we found each other once again.

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  1. wistie

    oh mommy, i’m sorry your cousin didn’t recognize you… if it makes you feel better my cousin didn’t recognize me on new years. anyway… i’ll talk to you later

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