First off, I need to address a confusion that some readers might have about the two Seans discussed herein; one Sean is my brother (whose blog ramblings can be found here) and the other is my nephew Sean (son of my brother Kent) who is graduating from high school this week in Iowa City. He has been more commonly known to us as Sean Patrick, but as people grow into their late teens, it becomes harder to keep the additional names. Curiously, Sean Patrick is named after Sean Charles (my brother), whose middle name is, in turn named for his uncle Chuck.
Confused yet? Let me go further. The matriarch of our family is now our great aunt, and though she is descriptively “great,” I mean it in the generational sense of “my grandmother’s sister.” Her name is Idonna (yes, “Donna” with an “I” stuck before it) but we’ve truncated it to Auntie Donna.
We all grew up working at my uncle’s catering business (no, a different uncle), alongside our Mormon relatives known as the Startups. They weren’t a business, that is their actual name. The Startups are the extended sisters and nephews of my Uncle Steve’s wife Cheryl. In other words, I would be slicing ham with my second-cousins-once-removed-in-laws-by-marriage. We’re actually friends with that whole brood.
Want to hear something ever crazier? One of the Startup wives died, and the husband of another Startup died – and then the surviving widow and widower got married to each other. Thus, those kids who once were cousins also became step-brothers to each other.
I have 43 cousins (41 on the Mormon side) and each one of them brings something like this to the table. The one thing all of us have in common are large, full lips – and one ancestor known as William Willden. If he knew what kind of twisted mess he’d beget, he might have opted for the bachelor life, 1887-style.