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Prompted By Family Feud

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Long-lost cousins, just discovered

A feud is defined as a prolonged or bitter quarrel or dispute. My family has not had any feuds that I know of, although there have been some estrangements. Those seem to me like two different things, one involving yelling, and the other involving silence. Maybe that’s an unimportant distinction, if they both result in the families losing contact with each other. [Note: after my oldest sister read this story, she informed me that there actually was a feud, not just an estrangement, so my distinction is irrelevant to this story. See the third paragraph for newly added details.]

My family has not had any feuds that I know of, although there have been estrangements, which seem like two different things.

We never knew any of my father’s relatives, except for his sister, my aunt Adele. We saw Adele regularly, and since she had no children of her own, she often brought presents for my sisters and me, although generally not anything we wanted. She would tell us about going to the weddings and bar mitzvahs of various cousins whom we didn’t know, because she kept in touch with everyone. My father had no interest in hearing about them. What I was told when I was a child was that after he became a doctor, all of his relatives expected him to give them free medical care, and he resented that. So he cut off communication with them completely. I don’t know if that is the whole story, and I probably never will. That is, unless I do one of those DNA tests, make a connection with people from that side of the family, and find out what their version is.

Update: I learned several weeks after publishing this story that there is much more involved, and there was a family feud with my father’s relatives. My father owned a pharmacy with his mother and sister, and he worked there for the ten years it took him to get accepted to medical school. My sister was told that this pharmacy at some point became jointly owned with some cousins, and that when he was in medical school they changed the ownership to cut him out without paying him for it. In his view, the cousins stole the family pharmacy from him, believing that he didn’t need his share any more since he was going to be a wealthy doctor. After that he wanted nothing to do with them and perhaps they felt the same way about him. Clearly it was a feud, and sadly, it never got resolved. I wonder if I could find the descendants of those cousins via a DNA test, but I don’t know if I want to or not.

On my mother’s side, I have two first cousins, both girls, who are about the same ages as my two sisters. All five of us were very close when we were growing up, but as adults there have been some difficult times. Without going into any details, there have been situations when one cousin or the other was offended by something that either I or one of my sisters did, leading to a period of cutting off communication. At other times, the two cousins, who are sisters, have been mad at each other about something, but my sisters and I have been careful not to take sides between them. Eventually, everyone starts talking to each other again, although without discussing whatever was the issue in the first place. Maybe not the healthiest way to resolve differences, but it seems to work.

Much to my surprise, I recently was found by some second cousins on my mother’s side, whom I had never even known about. This was not the result of any feud, but just the fact that this branch of the family moved to Georgia and stayed there. In those days, the distance between New Jersey and Georgia was insurmountable, and certainly nobody would have dreamed of making long-distance telephone calls. So the two branches just lost touch with each other. The fact that now, in 2022, my second-cousin-once-removed is living in Sacramento, has joined my synagogue, and introduced herself to me after services one night was mind-boggling. Her mother, my second cousin, just came to visit her, and the three of us got together. (Featured Image.) It was wonderful!

It’s almost enough to make me want to take up genealogy! There may be a lot more relatives out there waiting to be found.


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Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. How lucky you are to have found two long-lost cousins Suzy.

    I’m from a relatively small family and just yesterday I called my LA cousin who I see far too seldom. We chatted awhile and as we hung up we both said, “ I love you.” That felt so sweet..

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    It was difficult to stay in touch long-distance a few generations ago, so it’s wonderful that your new-found cousin now lives in Sacramento and belongs to the same temple, no less! And now you’ve even found her mother. Truly great!

    I’m glad that you and your sisters were always able to resolve those squabbles between your cousins. Once close, it is difficult to think about taking sides, or being in the middle of one those disagreements. Glad they worked out, one way or another.

    • Suzy says:

      Funny to remember how difficult it was to make a long-distance call in our youth, and now we call all over the world so easily! Especially important for people like you and me who have children living abroad.

  3. Jim Willis says:

    Suzy, I appreciate your parsing the word “feud,” because I’ve often wondered (but been too lazy to look up) what its distinctive features are. I do know the silent kind of feud, though, because my mom engaged in a couple of those with extended family members. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Suzy says:

      Well, if there are silent feuds, then that shoots my distinction of yelling vs. silence. I certainly can’t imagine the Hatfields and McCoys being silent. But I guess there are many ways to have a feud.

  4. Dave Ventre says:

    I think that letting a tense or angry situation just dissipate, rather than “settling” it, is a viable strategy in many cases. Sometimes discussing it merely serves to rekindle the anger. Being half Norwegian and an ACOA, I am quite good at not talking about things.

    • Suzy says:

      Dave, I like your suggestion that letting it dissipate can be a good strategy. That makes me feel better about all the times I brooded instead of telling the other person why I was angry.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    I love the story of the long-lost cousins, Suzy — though I leave the genealogy to my cousin, the family yenta, who knows everyone and tells me whom to be in touch with and whom to avoid. I just listen to her advice, which seems to be absolutely perfect, if long-winded.

    And I also love your incisive point about the difference between “feud” and “estrangement” and now realize that what we have had in our family have really been the latter. Not better or worse; just different.

    As to your title, it is, as always, perfect, and I’m assuming that you are referring to the 1970 Badfinger song of that name, or at least that was the one I recognized from our mutually foggy college daze. However, a little googling on my part has revealed a number of other songs by that name that have since been recorded, including one sung by Boyzone and written by Jim Steinman (of Meatloaf fame) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, that Andrew Lloyd Webber) in 1986. Also pretty apt lyrics.

    • Suzy says:

      Thank you, John, I always appreciate your comments. You are right that I was thinking of the Badfinger song, from our “college daze.” Didn’t realize there were other songs with that name. Thanks for the youtube link, I just listened and I like the song a lot, even though the music video is kind of weird and I have never heard of Boyzone. Wiki tells me this song was the biggest selling record ever for a boy band, and was voted Song of the Year for 1998 (way after our time!).

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I love the picture, Suzy. There is something very satisfying about unraveling a family puzzle and finding relatives that you didn’t know existed. That happened several years ago on my husband’s father’s side of the family. The story is too long for a comment, but he did reconnect with his father’s siblings’ descendants. It was interesting and he has kept up with a few of them.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    I had to smile at your reference to long distance calls, and how those were mostly unthinkable (we would have holidays with 2 second hellos as the phone was passed around). Your recent connection with your cousins sounds lovely—I connected with some cousins late as well, and they turned out to be my dearest family relations. My mother had become a bit estranged from those siblings. You never know.

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