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Family Reunion Forum

Family curse or misunderstanding?

I have a situation that I need advice on for our upcoming reunion.

The reunion is supposed to consist of both sides of my family. My grandfather was the youngest of 8 sons. My grandmother was the middle of seven.

As a child, I didn't find out my grandfather had brothers until one of them died and he lived in the same city! That was when my mother started talking about all her other cousins and uncles. We were amazed. Needless to say we also found out that 3/4 of the city was directly related to us.

When we asked my mother why she never told us about, or even visited her cousins, her response was, "Our fathers didn't want us to know each other".

Slowly in the past couple of reunions more and more of my grandfathers family are starting to come to the reunions. Mainly these are the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of his brothers.

Since my family is hosting the next reunion and it will be the first time it will be moved from our hometown, we decided to do something different. I am the coordinator and I have free long distance (haha). I called one person who gave me names and phone numbers of others who gave me more and more.

I called all these people and spoke directly to them explaining that we were hosting the reunion and extending a personal invitation for them to come. I followed it up with a written letter and survey to obtain more family information.

Here's my situation: All my mother's first cousins who are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s said the same thing, "I would love to see--- but when we were growing up our fathers didn't want us to know each other..."

This kept coming up and then finally it dawned on me. Before my grandfather died I had had a conversation with him. He was bragging about his 10 children, 48 grandchildren, 78 greatgrandchildren and the gggrands he had. He told me, "My brothers had lots of children and grands too. Be sure to teach your children to ask questions about who they are getting involved with so they won't end up with one of their cousins. My brothers and me all agreed that we didn't want our children to "know" one another so as NOT to have our family being accused of inbreeding and having deformed children."

After discussing this with some of my cousins (grandchildren of my granduncles) we have come to the conclusion that the brothers meant "know" in the bibical sense, "Abraham KNEW Sarah and she conceived and bare him a son"

Oh my GOD!!!!!!!! My cousins speak about the same pain I see on my mother's face when she talks about her uncles and cousins. But they don't know that it was a misunderstanding. Back then parents didn't speak outright of sex as some of us do today with our children. They used bibical terms and phrases that their children took to heart.

I hear the pain in their voices and want to do something about it. My cousins say they have tried to explain that its not too late for them to get together but these older people somehow still feel bound to their fathers' command.

I want to have a time set aside on our meet and greet night where several of us (cousins from each of the brothers) come forth and speak out about this misunderstanding, therefore setting the record straight so it will set our parents free. Since we will all be family members we feel its time to break the unintended cycle that our grandparents formed by their good intentions.

However, some of the other cousins feel we should leave it alone so as not to embarrass our parents. I don't know what to do. This has been handed down for generations as a family curse by the brothers but in reality they were trying to protect the family.

Does anyone have a suggestions on how to handle this and break this "curse"?

Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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