At Least You’re Not Your Own Grandpa

, , , , , | Related | April 9, 2021

You know how some people say that they’re related to pretty much everyone in some way? My mother is one of them, and she’s actually not exaggerating when she says that. Nearly everyone in her hometown is her cousin or extended family. According to her, and corroborated by her siblings, it’s easier to count the number of people she isn’t related to than the ones she is.

Back during World War I, all the men in town were called on to serve the nation and defend France against the Germans. They all fought, and died, in the trenches. I’m not sure the exact number, but of the thirty or forty men that left, less than half a dozen came home in something other than a coffin.

Including my great-grandfather.

With the death of nearly 80% of the young men in town, there was a whole motherlode of widows and young women facing spinsterhood, and many families without heirs, so the surviving men got busy rectifying that.

My great-grandfather, in particular, was the most virile of the lot. He was married to at least four women at the same time. Seven wives is the most commonly accepted number, with nine as the highest. More, if the one-night stands and mistresses are counted.

He then proceeded to have nearly fifty children with them, which made up basically half of their hometown’s next generation. And when those kids grew up, they married the other half of their generation. That meant that, by the time my mother was born, nearly every other kid in town was her cousin.

She half-seriously told me that when we were at her hometown, she could point at a random person on the street, and chances were he or she would be a blood relative. In fact, she actually did that, after a night of drinking, and indeed, that person was her half-cousin once removed — her mother’s half-sister’s grandson.

All in all, I’m told that my mother has nearly two hundred aunts, uncles, and cousins. And if that isn’t enough to be related to virtually everyone in a town, then I don’t know what is.

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