Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Growing up cousins

Now that I think about it, it only makes sense that fave aunt would beget fave cousin. Though I had other cousins closer in age, he was the one I spent the most time around growing up.

It probably didn't hurt that fave aunt always lived in the coolest houses. There was a ranch house with a huge backyard that sloped away like it was specifically designed for a Slip 'n Slide. There was a two-story house with a glassed-in kitchen that overlooked a bluff.

But my favorite of all was another two-story house with a staircase on each end, so that you could run in a complete circle--up the stairs on one end, down the hall and through two rooms on the second floor, then down the stairs on the other end--without stopping. Although I'm sure that's not why it was designed like that.

Upstairs was fave cousin's room, where we spent countless hours playing RBI Baseball, Commando, Rush'n Attack, and other Nintendo games until our thumbs blistered, and then we played some more. There was also the exercise room, which contained the pinball machine.

There was an open field adjacent to the house where we'd take turns riding his 50cc motorcycle. There was a trampoline in the front yard and a pool out back. I remember so many summer mornings fave aunt cooking eggs, bacon, gravy, and fried bologna for breakfast. And putting Karo Syrup on my biscuits, as we ate in the dining room looking out the windows at the pool, sparkling and ever so enticing. That's where I learned to swim.

Fave cousin and I always seemed to be into most of the same things. Nintendo, baseball cards, WWF (back when it was real), and wiffle ball, to name a few. He was five years my junior, and I guess he looked up to me, though I didn't know it at the time. I remember years later, he told me that when we'd play basketball, he thought I was as good as Michael Jordan. In his defense, I did imitate His Airness by sticking my tongue out when I played. Also, I had some game.

As it invariably does, time began to change things it has no business messing with. I vividly remember sometime after I turned sixteen, fave cousin wanting to come over and spend the night one weekend when I had a date. He came over anyway and stayed with Mom and Dad until I got home. I don't think he understood. Or maybe it was me who didn't understand. But that was the beginning of the end of something.

A tornado came through and ripped part of the roof off that two-story house and destroyed the trampoline. A fire a few years later took care of the rest. I don't get out that way much, but when I do, I always glance over where that house once stood and miss that part of my life.

Fave cousin and I grew older and both kinda did our own thing. We still managed to hang out occasionally. We've golfed together a few times and even gone to a Bama game or two over the years. And though I'm sure I've fallen a few notches from the Jordan-esque image he once had of me, I've always been proud of him. Even if I've never told him.

This past Sunday, we had a going away gathering for fave cousin. He's decided to join the Army. He leaves next Monday.

As I have been remembering these things--things that still seem so vivid and so close--I am simply blown away by the passing of time.

Sometimes it felt as if life was a ride in the back of a pickup truck going sixty miles an hour down the highway. And time was the wind, whizzing by, taking your breath away. And once in awhile, you'd stick out your hand to try and catch it.

But you can never catch it.

"It almost seems like yesterday. Where do the good times go? Life was so much easier twenty years ago..."


  1. I had something similar. It was favorite aunt beget favorite cousin beget favorite second cousin(?). My cousin is 11 years older and a 'free spirit' and I thought she was so cool back when I was 10 and then she had a daughter when I was 11 who became more like a younger sister. I even taught her the words to the song 'Knockin' Boots' by Candy Man when she was 6 while being secretly glad that she didn't know that it was about sex and I was the cooler alternative to her mother for helping at junior high dances. After I helped her move into the dorm freshman year, we started drifting apart. Now we go months without talking even though she only lives 30 minutes away and we are Facebook friends. Over the years I've realized that relationships just have an ebb and flow to them. It kinds sucks.

    And thanks for making me remember George "The Animal" Steele's hairy back. Yech!

  2. I'm re-knowing my cousins. As we grew older we wanted to know the people we had known since our birth or theirs

    The one thing I really like Facebook for is the ability to reconnect with my cousins even more--IM and friends from childhood

    I remember telling my cousin G the horrors and good parts of being an older sister when she was 13 months old and I was seven. I really thought she understood

    Who else won't let her live down running for president of Seventh Grade on the smiley face campaign? She won

    My one cousin who is older than I am and I once stayed up much of a night thinking of things our mothers had in common other than the same family and looks. His mother was the bitch from hell. We finally agreed on burnt chicken

    I think you spend your 20's and 30's trying to live down your past or not caring about it and the rest of your life trying to recapture just a bit of the feeling--if it was good

    Now we have reunions with 2nd & 3rd cousins and one of my cousins who I never knew until two--three years ago deleted most of his facebook friends yesterday--I survived and stupidly it did make me feel good--we relate more as friends

    It just caught you earlier

  3. I'm very tired--it's monsooning and...
    I meant my mother and aunt both burnt chicken so that it wouldn't kill you

    And that you're unusual for somebody in his 30's. Though I'm not sure about that anymore. My cousin who kept me on Facebook is your age

    When I get settled if ever I'm planning on sending him a picture I found of his great grandparents, grandparents, father and uncle. It was in the 20's and they all looked like mobsters. Even the little kids. I'm not sure they weren't

  4. This is exactly how I feel, except it's with my siblings... not cousins. I grew up with 5 siblings. I can still remember thinking that we would all grow up and raise our children together. Man was I wrong! It's funny how people raised in the same household can take such different paths in life. I only see one sister on a fairly regular basis. Most of the others I hardly talk to. The last time we were all together was over a year ago when our dad died. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and change how things happened so that we would all still be as close as we used to be. Great post Bone! :)

  5. Great post--I love your references to time and how it changes not only us but also our relationships with others. I especially liked this quote: "time began to change things it has no business messing with."

  6. Oh, Bone, I love this post.

    I started out getting ready to highlight a line I really liked. Before I knew it, I was pretty much ready to highlight the entire thing. It all just struck a chord with me.

    It's sweet, it's sentimental, it's funny, it's sad, it's nostalgic. I guess it's a little bit like life in general.

    Cherish the memories you have of the boy, and be proud of the man he has become. You might not be like Jordan to him anymore, but sometimes what you grow up to be means more to someone than a childhood idolization ever could.

  7. This is a lovely post.

    I think it makes it feel worse when you can pinpoint the moment things started to change...

  8. Be sure to tell your cousin "Thanks for serving" from me.
    I'm at a loss because I didn't live near any of my extended family...that may have been a good thing seeing as I didn't know them well enough to not like them.

    And I'm sure you're still just "Like Mike!" ;)

  9. I really like how TC summarized it. I don't have much more to add beyond that.

    Your post made me reflect on my cousin, Kevin, and the memories I have of us together. It's hard to believe that the entire time we were growing up, there was a germ-cell tumor growing with him. Sometimes, it makes me angry to think that such a thing was laying there, hidden. It's not fair. I wish we had known sooner, but I know everything happens for a reason.

    Thank you for the touching post this morning. Good luck to your cousin as he begins his adventure, and I hope he remains safe.

  10. ...and if you caught it, would it ever be the same? I dont think so...that's the beauty of it I guess :)

  11. Great post.

    Your cousin is a brave guy! You should be proud of him, and I'm sure he still thinks your cool.

    By the way, fave aunt's house sounds awesome.

  12. Bone; I'm so glad you said something about the staircase. I had forgotten that my Aunt's house one of those. It is a really old farm house up in Yankeeland.

    I also love the way you moved the story through time just like it passes: way faster than it should.

    May your cousin stay safe as he enters this new phase of his life.

  13. Murf - Knockin' Boots was about sex???

    Yeah, I know it's just the natural progression of relationships sometimes. But as you say, it still sucks.

    Ooo, good one. Don't forget Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, the Hart Foundation, and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. I think this calls for a rasslin' post :)

    Pia - Loved your story about the 13 month old. You never know what kids pick up on :) My mother always orders her steaks "burned up."

    And I'm probably unusual for someone in any age range :)

    Mrs. R - I'm sorry. If it's something you really miss, maybe it's still possible to try and change things now?

    Thank you.

    Sage - Thanks. I wasn't sure about that line. It felt a little clumsy, but I had to say something about time, cursed time.

    TC - I guess it's a little bit like life in general.

    Well put. This was definitely just a pure life post. Eh, I'd rather him still think I was as good as Jordan :)

    Also, there's no limit to the number of lines you can highlight.

    Thank you.

    J. Adamthwaite - Thanks. I've never thought about it, but it probalby does most of the time. Or at least that's the moment you always return to time and time again.

    Renee - Will do.

    Well, seeing that Jordan is in his late 40's, I'm probably closer to being like Mike now than I've ever been. And yet still far, far away :) Maybe when Jordan is 75 and I'm 65, I can take him.

    Marina - This one seems to be causing a lot of people to reflect. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry about your cousin. I'm glad you have good memories to carry with you though.

    And thanks for the well wishes.

    UL - Probably not. I just wish I could have known the value of the days back then, so that maybe I could have cherished them a bit more or something.

    OK Chick - Thanks. Oh, it totally was! That's what I really miss is the house :)

    PennyCandy - Thank you. Any house with an upstairs was really cool when I was young. Thanks for the well wishes, too.

  14. Childhood's splendid days were numbered, weren't they? It's really good that you've kept somewhat in touch with your favorite cousin. I can't say that I've stayed connected at all to any of those cousins I once played with--we're so far apart now, literally and culturally.
    I loved staircases, too!

  15. eggs, bacon, gravy, and fried bologna for breakfast. And putting Karo Syrup on my biscuits

    Whoa. I initially passed on reading this post... a bunch of reminiscences, whatever. Then Mrs. Doohickie read me the line about breakfast... and added, "EWW! Who would eat that?"

    I would.

    I sooooo would.

  16. Bone - You make me want to dig out my brother's rasslin' dolls from that era. I loved the movie 'The Wrestler' although I didn't like the pre-wrestling scenes where they talk to each other about what moves they were going to do in the ring. I prefer to think of rasslin' as real.

  17. One of my best friends lost her cousin in a tragic overdose this past week. And since then, all I've been able to think about are my cousins. I have 23 first cousins. (Including spouses)-- Which I know is ridic. We range in age from 31 to under a year.
    I have favorites. And the one that's supposed to be my favorite. And the one I wish I knew better.
    But they're a HUGE part of my life.
    In my family, cousin means something. Your family sounds like mine.

  18. I have been thinking a lot about cousins since reading this
    Like Cami I can't imagine life without them

    They're the only people who I can talk about somebody close to me and they know I mean my complaints with much love as they know that person does have a___,right, good heart,

  19. While Iraq is winding down it seems the more things change the more they stay the same, and our new President wants to escalate the situation in Afghanistan. I wish your cousin, and every serviceman and woman for that matter, a safe & injury-free Tour, and may they all soon return home to their loved ones.

    P.S. don't forget Tito Santana, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

  20. Lovely post. Growing up, my family was the only aunt/uncle that didn't live in California. We were isolated in Texas. As a result, all the rest of my extended family is really close. I don't even know some of their names. My siblings (6 of us total) decided we weren't going to be like that; we would do a better job keeping in touch. I never realized how hard it is just to maintain a relationship with a sibling. We work at it yet there are weeks, shoot, months even, when I go without talking to a brother or sister.

    I'm working on reversing that.

    Thank Fave Cousin for his service.

  21. really lovely post bone. I have some great cousins - the best actually.

    you think we're related?? might be.

    hey - I WAS TOTALLY ENTHRALLED with the legal stuff that you sent me the link to in Mr. Rich in Nashville .. he's kinda got some violent tendencies.. serious partyer..serious sounding paranoia..I'll have to follow that and see what happens. sad that people get so "rich" and "famous" that they treat their "friends" in such childish ways.

  22. What a beautiful and poignant post...your memories were so vivid. And you portrayed the passing of time in the perfect, bittersweet way. Your fave cousin is doing a wonderful thing...I'm sending out a prayer that he stays safe on his new journey.

  23. Actonbell - Childhood's splendid days were numbered, weren't they?

    Yes, they were. I definitely haven't kept up with all my cousins. There are a few I haven't seen in years.

    Doohickie - PennyCandy is Mrs. Doohickie!?!? How did I never figure that out?

    Murf - Um, why do you have his rasslin' dolls? And did he have the ring, too?!

    Cami - Wow. I think I have 23 or 24 first cousins not including spouses. lol All on my mother's side. But I'd rather have more than I can keep up with than few or none.

    Pia - It's wonderful to have someone like that, whether they're a cousin or not.

    Capn John - Oh, good ones! What about Jake "The Snake" Roberts. And The British Bulldogs?

    Charlotta - Well the distance would definitely make it tougher. For what its worth, I always get the feeling from reading your blog that you and your immediately family are very close :)

    Shelby - Thank you. Yeah, we probably are somewhere down the line.

    Oh good. I found it pretty interesting myself. Just waiting to see what happens next.

    Fledgling Poet - Thank you.

    Thanks to everyone for the well wishes.

  24. By "digging out", I meant going over to his house and freeing them from the dark confines of the basement that his wife put them in for a photo op. And of course there was the ring. Too much jumping off of the top turnbuckle broke it so its long gone.

  25. Bone: I'm shocked I thought you knew everything. Yes I am Mrs. Doohickie.

  26. I thought of you yesterday. We have a channel called The Big 10 Network which shows most sporting events (past and present) guessed it, the Big 10 and yesterday they were showing the Final Four from 1987 - Syracuse (my Rony Seikaly) vs Indiana (my Keith Smart). I miss those days....

  27. That sound sort of Stand by me-ish.
    Sweet and sad.

    I have many cousins, but lived near none of them growing up. We do all grow up and away from each other though, don't we? If only there were a net wide enough to keep us close while allowing us to spread our wings, but nets aren't really good for winged creatures, are they.