My aunt and uncle and two cousins lived across the street from us until I was seven. And my maternal grandparents and my dad's mom lived just a mile away. Family was all around.
There were lots of advantages to this. My mom lived across the street from her best friend, her sister. My cousin Stephen was a year older than me, and his sister Lynne was a year older than my sister Mary Ellen.
So, we all had built in friends and we did everything together. When our parents went out on the weekends, the four of us cousins spend the night at my grandparents' house. And we loved being there, a mini-vacation for everyone.
For some reason, as a young kid, I seemed to suffer from lots of sore throats and the earaches that accompanied them made me cry in pain. Our pediatrician, who had also been my mom's pediatrician, recommended a specialist.
My dad, being in the pharmaceutical business, knew all the doctors, and was friends with many of them. Off we went to the best guy in town who said that I should have my tonsils out, a very common practice in those days. My dad asked the doctor if he would give a discount if both Stephen and I had our tonsils taken out at the same time.
The doctor agreed and the time of the surgery was set. I don't think Stephen knew what hit him. As far as I know he had only two symptoms. He lived across the street from me and he was my cousin.
When I woke up in the recovery room, there were lots of other kids in beds lined up all around me. The great news was that I could have as much ice cream as I wanted. Perhaps I am hallucinating about that. I do remember feeling a sense of superiority over Stephen when they wheeled him in, still out like a light, while I was working on my second serving of ice cream. I never had an earache again after that, all in all, a very pleasant experience.
Stephen doesn't remember it that way though. Perhaps it's the fact that he was dragged into it simply for being my nearest cousin. Or maybe it's just because he didn't get quite as much ice cream as I did.