My mother had one brother so I had one uncle and aunt. But growing up I called loads of people auntie or uncle because they were either friends of my mum's or more usually my great-aunt/uncle. My grandmother was the oldest of eight so generational lines were blurry.
The cousin I visited this week is really my second cousin (I think - my mother's first cousin) and she's in her late eighties, while I have one second cousin who is younger than me. Yes, it's confusing.
I was thinking about another cousin in particular last night after reading a post on Jimmy's blog about different perspectives and how people remember things differently.
I have one cousin who is six months older than me in age but a school year ahead and a lifetime older in sophistication. As we were growing up she was chatty and confident while I was shy. She was the pretty and funny one while I was the clever one. (In reality I wasn't that clever but I did better at school than she did.) And I would have given anything to be her instead of me.
We were both only children but her parents owned a shop while my mum was a single parent. She had all the latest clothes, which as she was also taller than me, were passed down to me in due course.
A few years ago we met again for the first time in decades and she confided that she'd always felt that I was the favourite one. I don't think I expressed my amazement at that statement at the time because she still talked a lot and I didn't get a chance. But I know she was the favourite.
I must have been about twelve when we were at a family celebration in a local club. My cousin, with me tagging along in her wake, walked up to the bar where one of our uncles stood. He saw her and introduced her to the man he was talking to as, 'my favourite niece.'
Then he spotted me standing just behind. 'Ah,' he said, 'and this is my other favourite niece.' It was a good recovery but it was too late.
It wasn't just that incident although that is the most obvious; it was a sense of being different, a little set apart, not really one of the family. There was nothing in particular that anyone did that made me feel that so maybe it was all down to a child's imagination and a different perspective.