A Visit With My Faux Cousins in Atlanta

Faux painting or faux finishing are terms used to describe decorative paint finishes that replicate the appearance of materials such as marble, wood or stone.[1] The term comes from the French word faux, meaning false, as these techniques started as a form of replicating materials such as marble and wood with paint, but has subsequently come to encompass many other decorative finishes for walls and furniture including simulating recognisable textures and surfaces. (Wikipedia)

The word “faux” in French means false or artificial. But in the world of art it can also mean an imitation and has come to mean an “approximation” that is very close to real. Far from being a pejorative term, in arts and decoration people often seek “faux” finishes to fulfill their desire to have something they couldn’t possibly have otherwise.

So now you’re probably wondering, “What’s a faux cousin?” I’ll give you the abridged version.

About 10 years ago, I learned in a most unceremonious way, that the man I’d always thought was my dad, was really my stepdad. My natural father was still alive, in his 90’s and living in Florida. I reached out to him, but he wanted nothing to do with me. This meant that all the relatives on my stepfather’s side were no longer blood relatives. It also meant that my seven siblings became step-brothers and sisters instantaneously.

A dear cousin who lives in Atlanta made it known that my new status as a non-blood relative made no difference to him. We have been in close touch for nearly ten years since I last visited him and his family. A sudden opportunity to attend two academic conferences in Atlanta gave me the excuse to return for a long-overdue visit with my cousin and his wife.

Following my two conferences in downtown Atlanta, I spent the weekend with my cousin and his wife in their beautiful home in Canton, Georgia, about an hour northwest of Atlanta. Canton is a small town undergoing some development which was curtailed by the financial bust in 2008 but is finally beginning to pick up again.


They moved into a new development on one of the rolling hills in their area. Development hardly does their neighborhood justice; the houses are clustered in tiny communities spread out over the hills with plenty of open space in between. The houses are very attractive: lots of glass and stone and wooden arches both outside and in. The scenery in and around Canton is lovely…New England-like.


After spending a good amount of time going over our stories of our lives, we got around to discussing to our new relationship as non-blood relatives. My cousin, in his characteristic, southern laid-back drawl, said,”Well, you’re just a “faux” cousin. Instead of feeling offended, I was delighted by my new status; delighted that there was actually a word to more accurately describe what I am to him and his family, a word that I find very visual and trendy. His wife is an interior designer/decorator, so the word “faux” was a natural for them to choose and was definitely not meant to be pejorative.

I spent a wonderful, lazy, tasty, low-key, gossipy weekend with them doing a little sightseeing and a lot of bonding. I am at the airport now on my return trip home, processing my new status as their “faux cousin” and appreciating the fact that there are so many new labels available to those of us who have to contend with less-than perfect family histories. (Is anyone’s family really perfect?)

I look forward to a long loving and very real relationship with my faux cousins in Atlanta, and invite you to borrow this newly coined phrase (by my cousin) to apply to family members of your own whose relationship to you doesn’t quite fit into the usual categories! Thank you, Terry and Betty for a wonderful visit and a new identity!


15 thoughts on “A Visit With My Faux Cousins in Atlanta”

  1. My mom was married & widowed before I was born. My Nana & Papa were my faux grandparents, the parents of her first husband. They were the only grandparents I remember because my real ones all died before I was born. We might not have been related by blood, but we were related.


  2. Wow… how did you come to find this out? I’m so glad you got to NWP and NCTE. Did you see Heidi and Darshna? Did you make it to the Slicers dinner?


    1. I learned about faux finishes some time ago. Don’t remember how. Yes, I did get to the conferences and I did see Heidi and Darshna at the end of the day when about 10 people, myself included, went out for drinks. I made a lot of good contacts at NWP, but I wasn’t so thrilled about NCTE. Too big!!
      Didn’t get to the Slicers’ Dinner much to my regret (cousin too tired to drive into Atlanta). Maybe next year. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your lovely family.


  3. Wow! What a journey! Isn’t it something too how many of the most powerful stories we love the best (Because of Winn Dixie comes to mind) follow the theme of finding your own family? Your story is for real. Beautiful. May the love of your faux family hold you warm this Thanksgiving week.


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