Portage la Prairie, MB –
As a child, Ernest McKay believed just about everybody he knew was his cousin. In his teen years, McKay began dating and needed to know who his actual relatives were. McKay’s parents Dave and June had to come clean with a family secret and admit they were guilty of abusing the term cousin.
“As a kid I thought just about everyone my age was my cousin,” Ernest McKay explained. “It was great until I had a crush on a girl my parents said was my cousin.”
The McKays and several other Portage la Prairie area families had been telling their children distant relative’s, suspected relation’s, friend’s, co-worker’s, neighbour’s, drinking buddy’s and associate’s children were their cousins.
“We were just trying to keep things simple for him,” June McKay said. “Our family has a lot of; let’s call it, overlap and confusion.”
McKay is alluding to the fact their family has an abundance of divorce, re-marriages, cross-marriages and general dysfunction.
“This is my third marriage and I have children from both previous marriages,” McKay said. “My sisters have been married twice. Not to each other but to different men. My mom married my uncle who divorced his wife, then they broke up and my uncle started living with my husband’s mom. It gets real confusing at Christmas.”
That confusion was the motivation behind the McKays telling their son so many, technically unrelated, people were his cousin. The McKays also threw around the terms auntie and uncle with reckless abandon.
“You can’t explain to a five-year-old how people have been divorced and re-married and then divorced again. That would cause anxiety,” McKay said. “Once he got old enough to understand we never got around to sorting out who was his real aunties and uncles and who weren’t.”
“I’m not sure my parents know who we are related to anymore,” Ernest McKay offered. “I’m just glad Diane isn’t my cousin after all. We’ve been dating for a couple of years and with a baby on the way, we are thinking of getting married.”
McKay’s mother is less enthusiastic about her son’s relationship.
“When he asked about Diane being his cousin we were pretty sure she wasn’t. Now that we put all the pieces together, we think she might be his third cousin, twice removed but we’re not sure. They’ll need a DNA test on the baby after it’s born to know if it’s his for sure anyway. I guess they’ll be able to tell if they’re cousins then.”
Although a new generation would provide an excellent opportunity to correct the reckless and wrong use of the terms cousin, auntie and uncle, Ernest and Diane are thinking about continuing on the family tradition.
“I wouldn’t want to rob my baby girl or boy of the same large family I grew up in,” McKay said. “And if we’re the only ones doing it the rest of the family might get upset. We’ll just stick with what we know and hope our child doesn’t marry a relative. Or at least a close relative.”
Notice to reader: click here to read the full disclaimer and explanation of the fictional and satirical nature of this story and website. Yes, cousins and aunties are real, and the fact some of the people we call that might not actually be that may be true, it does not make this story real. Please read and share responsibly.