My Siblings

I'm my mother's only child, but my father has 8 other children besides me (I think a couple of them are step children). I had no idea he had other children (though I was aware he had gotten married...) until I was 14 and my cousin hipped me (accidentally she says, on purpose my mom says) to game.

Both of my parents are from a really small town in Alabama and a good portion of my family still lives there. My mom and I go back for Thanksgiving and 4th of July every year (almost every year, anyway) to spend time with family. One year, I spent an inordinate amount of time with two of my cousins (mother/daughter). My first cousin (the mother) is about 15 years older than me and her daughter is 2 years younger than me. As the day progressed, my older cousin kept saying "later on, we're going to go to Danielle's house..." I didn't think much of that because her sister's name is Danielle and she had just moved.

That night, we pulled up into the driveway of a home I'd never been to and where there clearly were a lot of people. As my cousin pulled her seat forward so I could get out, she suddenly said, "Oh, Ashley! I didn't even think to ask you, are you ok with us being here?" I looked at her funny and nodded my head. She paused again and said, "Wait, you do know who Danielle is, right?" I gave her another funny look and her eyes got wide as she said, "oh no! Danielle is your sister! You didn't know that?"

I was a little scared as we walked into the house and downstairs. When I came into the room, a woman who kinda looked like me shouted my name and smiled broadly. Another woman sitting next to her smiled as well. Turns out they were both my half-sisters. Both about 15 years older than me. They also knew everything about me. Knew what grade I was in, what kind of grades I was making, knew that I was fairly smart and they both immediately started talking to me about what I should pledge when I got to college ;) (<--- story for another day, but let's just say my junior year in college I got a STERN talking to about my failure to do what I was told...)

One of them had just had a baby girl a few days prior. She was so precious and hearing "Aunt Ashley" was very wierd.

When my cousin brought me back to my uncle's house where my mom and I were staying, later that night, she admonished me not to say anything to my mother about it. Clearly, however, I had to know why she'd never told me. These girls (and, it turns out, most of my father's other kids) had long been born when I came around. She had to know about them. My mother never explained it more than to say she just didn't want me to know. She focused more on being upset that my cousin had told me without her permission.

I kept in touch with those 2 for a few months. These days, I only speak to one of them, and that's pretty infrequently. Mostly just on her birthday because it's 2 days before mine.

What was most interesting was how I'd always wanted older sisters. My older cousins (one, especially) were ok stand-ins. Actually, they were excellent stand-ins, but for the first few months after I met them, it was really cool to say I actually had older sisters. These days, I rarely talk about them, unless someone specifically asks if I have siblings (and even then, I'm most likely to just say no -- not everyone needs to know, right?)

One last interesting fact: one of my half-sisters' mom's married a distant cousin of my mother's. As a result, she is not only my half-sister, but also a half- step-cousin... SMH... gotta love small towns.

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