Herald Journal Columns
April 15, 2002

Third cousin, twice removed, or something


This week I had the opportunity to meet a distant relative that I had never talked to before.

Well, I guess I should clarify that I didn't actually meet him - we spoke on the phone. He called the newspaper office to place an ad in our classifieds, which is one of my duties here at the office.

I recognized the name from this funny story from many years ago:

My older brother, while still in high school, began dating a girl from a neighboring town. Things were going pretty well, and soon the time came to introduce her to the family.

He brought her home to meet Mom. When Mom learned of her last name, she asked her if she happened to know of a Mike from the same area with the same last name. The girl confirmed that that man was her father.

As the story unfolded, they all began to realize the undeniable fact - they were distantly related.

By distant, I mean that our grandmother and the girl's grandmother were sisters, making our mother and her father first cousins. I have no idea what that would make us - third cousins twice removed or some mumbo-jumbo like that - but that didn't seem to matter much.

It didn't matter to them that it would be a legal relationship. It was too creepy.

Needless to say, the relationship cooled immediately.

When I spoke on the phone to my distant cousin this week, oddly enough, he even remembered my brother.

I guess that something in life that you just wouldn't forget. I was quite young at the time, as was he, but I remember it. And what unlikely odds that something like that could happen, considering that we come from a small family.

Aside from my immediate family of three brothers and one sister, there isn't many relatives that we have.

To top it off, both of my parents are originally from the Minneapolis area, so finding someone we are related to is not a common occurrence. Of all the girls to date, what were the odds that my brother would find that girl?

There's that darn Murphy again, pushing his laws at us - "If it can happen, it will happen"

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