Updated: Dec 6, 2019

All the kids! My cousin's babies and mine.

I know I said I was going to keep this light hearted but this was a little emotional for me. Read on, you’ll see.

Family can be so complicated. Especially when it comes to death, property, finances, taxes. You know, who gets what after parents pass. It’s the big white elephant in the room that know one wants to address. Unfortunately, it’s natural. It’s grieving. It’s feeling sad and angry inside and not knowing what to do with it. It’s a lot of things.

After my my grandparents passed away that happened. Along with the property, our family split up. It was heart breaking for me because I had so many lasting memories imprinted being on the ranch with my cousins, aunts and uncles.

Gathering day was always the best. We would all get on our horses as a family, come back to the ranch, sort, vaccinate, castrate, ear mark, medicate if needed. Grandma would typically make bologna sandwiches with all the fixings, a side yellow Lays chips and a soda.

There were many great times spent on horse back with a few cousins. I remember riding out with my cousin Mattea either on Mesa Chiquita or at Critter Ridge. We would spend hours riding, get off, have a picnic and swim in the creek before we head back home.

The at barn at Mesa Chiquita always had huge stacks of hay inside. A few of us would braid hay twine to throw over the beams to make swings to jump off the hay with. That would give me a total heart attack now looking back, but it was sure fun at the time!

Cousin Christmas gift exchange on Christmas Eve was another memorable experience. We would draw a name out of a hat and that was the cousin we would buy for that year. I liked the suspense of it all, and seeing my aunts and uncles who lived further away during the holidays.

In 2005 my grandma passed very surprisingly. That was hard for our whole family because it was so fast. I still want to cry thinking about that day I got the news. I clearly remember hanging out at my friend, Lisa’s house eating bagels with cheddar cheese and apple juice. My mom came to pick me up and I just knew. I remember weeks after gramma passed my papa gave me some of her clothes. I still have a few heavy jackets and they still smell like her. She was the person who guided me through everything I know about horses. To this day, every time I ride, I think of her and my grandpa.

My grandpa passed five years later to cancer. He tried everything he could to fight it. In the end, it was too much. The day he passed our whole family was together. My cousin Mia shook me awake in the middle of the night and told me, tears running down her face. The whole family gathered together in the Julian house and mourned the patriarch of the family. My grandpa was a gentle sole who was a lover of animals, soda floats, yodeling and ribs. The day he passed was a day that changed everything.

I have heard numerous stories of this exact situation happening. the older ranch generation passes along the family legacy. But how can you be truly fair? How can you make everyone happy? This is the hardest part of the ranching life. Because, it happens even if you don’t want it to. It’s hard to run a business with four different sub-families and mindsets. Impossible some might say. I’m sure some figure it out, but it all comes with some form of stress. Unfortunately, with my dad and his siblings, things were not pretty. It became harder as time went on just get together for any social event.

John, Victor (Bud), Lucinda (Cindy), Adam (My dad) at my grandpa's memorial service.

My my dad is stubborn and everyone who knows him will probably use that word to describe him. I never wanted my other family members to put my brother and I in the same box as my dad and his words. My dad tends to be the stereotypical hardcore cowboy with a pinch of dip in his lip and a whole lot of sass (I got some of that... minus the dip). My brother is a gentle sole, like my papa and he balances us all out. Him and I have watched this whole family soap opera go on for years and we just want to be ourselves and not hold the grudge. We want to be different.

Life is so short and it is not worth my time to be mad at a situation that I have nothing to do with. I hope the rest of my family can see me for who I am and respect my feelings.

I have visited with my aunt and uncle a few times in the past few months to check in and have my boys play with my cousin’s kids. Then, the other day I visited them along with several other family members with their kids and we got this photo of them. As I took the photo I couldn’t help but smile with a tear at the corners of my eyes. I felt so happy to see my kids with their cousins (Or second cousins?) As I watched the kids along with my grown up cousins, play on the tractors and dirt, it reminded me of the good old times.

So, that’s what bring me here. Blood. Family is blood. I love you cousins if you are reading this!

Cousins on Halloween 1997?? I'm the Simba holding a Simba (lol!)

Cousins at our Grandpa's memorial service 2010.

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