As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my cousin Adrienne died at the end of 2018, without a will. A high school graduate, Adrienne nonetheless amassed a substantial estate. There are 19 first cousins who are heirs, and a niece by marriage and her husband who are wanna-be’s. The court will have to appoint an administrator, which will be a contested process.
What’s happening of necessity is that the 19 cousins are re-establishing contact, and updating each other on our lives. We all knew each other as kids. My mother’s siblings for the most part lived in Kearny, NJ, and raised their families there. Some came in and out, like Uncle Gene who was in the navy. Some, like Uncle Vinnie, made an early move to the Chicago area. But for the most part, we were in regular, face-to-face touch. That changed over the years, as our careers and relationships moved out of Kearny as a base, and as families grew. Having Thanksgiving around one table was no longer possible when cousins married and had families of their own.
Aside from the legal process, which will unfold on its own track, we’re finding how different our lives have been. We’re all “of a certain age.” My mother was dead center in the Halpin family of ten, so we have cousins older, and cousins younger. Some of us have stable health, stable finances, and what seems to be reasonably good lives. Others have fallen on very hard times. Religious believers often say that God has a plan for each of us, and would attribute relative good fortune or the lack thereof to God’s will. I don’t believe that, remembering all of us as kids, tumbling around together. I think it’s part of the randomness of life. I think we all tried, all the Halpin cousins. Some of us arrived at or near our 70’s well at the front of the pack, or at least in the middle. Others fell out of the race entirely. I’m sure that happens in all large families, but in this case the hard luck people have faces and names and memories attached.
Life is difficult.