We Are Family by
(89 Stories)

Prompted By Cousins

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Once we were six, and now we are five. First cousins.  We lined up like this: my sister, the oldest; the only boy; two of us born a few months apart; the middle of three sisters; and the baby. We posed for pictures together from the time we were toddlers.

In the beginning, there were these two, posing  with our grandfather: my dad’s dad.

We celebrated my autumn birthday wearing little pilgrim hats, courtesy of my preschool teacher mother.

Just the girls: We we are like sisters, but without the baggage.

Surrounding our grandfather, Grampa Mike

Our families got together for birthdays, Passover, Hanukkah, and a variety of other occasions. As kids, we ran around, got “overheated” (as my mother used to say when we were having fun), looked for tadpoles, explored my grandfather’s scary attic, slid down the banisters at his San Francisco Victorian house, and performed goofy skits. We never ran out of things to do together.

My sister and I got to spend some time in the summers with our LA cousins. As teenagers we’d spend our days going to the beach, just hanging out–it was always better when we were together. And then there was the time we got our faces painted, donned our love beads and went to a Be-In. As adults, some of us traveled together to Yosemite or Hawaii or Disneyland. We shopped for shoes and had dance parties. Late night conversations and lots of laughter. In-jokes and stories retold. All of this because we are family.

Five of us got married and started our families, creating a whole new generation of cousins.

A wedding!

The time we got together and coincidentally showed up wearing stripes

The second generation of cousins got to know each other and the family tradition carries on.







When my son got married on New Year’s Eve, we all got dressed up for the occasion. We looked mahvelous!

The California cousins traveled to Hawaii for the wedding of our young first cousin (once removed). It rained and rained, but nothing could dampen our spirits on this joyous occasion. This was the last time we were all together, posing as we had done all of our lives, so happy to be celebrating once again.

October 2014

My sister was diagnosed  with lung cancer two months later, and we lost her in May, 2015.

And now my cousins (and my surviving aunt and uncle) are the only people in my life who have known me forever. I can share memories and family history with my cousins because they’re the only ones left who know the stories–and the stories behind the stories. I am grateful to my aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents for giving me the blessing of cousins. I really don’t know what I would do without them.


Update: At a recent get together with the cousins


Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    What a beautiful tribute to the power of family ties, Risa. You were so lucky to grow up with your cousins and to maintain the relationship as adults. It is an added blessing that the connection was carried over into the next generation.

  2. Suzy says:

    Wonderful story, as always Risa. I loved learning about your cousins through two generations, and your pictures are great! Also, excellent choice of title! 🙂 I used that title for my story on the Parenthood prompt, but it turns out to be fine to have two stories with the same title – yours just has a 2 in the URL.

  3. Risa, Wonderful story, wonderful family.
    My parents’ generation is gone, my last aunt died in May.
    And I too lost a sister, and in the past few years lost 3 cousins of my generation as well, so it goes.
    Where do the years go? ❤️

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Risa, I love that you all ran around together and “got overheated”. You all had so much fun together, knew and loved one another, celebrated together, have those wonderful family photos. Just great. This is a loving, poignant story. And it is terrific that the children and grandchildren all know one another too. I admire the family that stays so close. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

    • Risa Nye says:

      Thanks, Betsy. I think my kids and my cousins’ kids have always known that this is a special, unusual thing–this love we share down through the generations of cousins. Our family isn’t that big, but it keeps on growing! Thank you for your kind words.

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