Friday, April 03, 2015
C is for CUZ
I was blessed with eight girl cousins and three boy cousins on my mother’s side, albeit two of the girls were so much younger than the rest of us that they didn’t really seem like cousins until all of us were adults. On my dad’s side, though, first cousins like these were scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth. My blessing on his side consists of two girls and two boys, all of us fairly close in age and two more girls, much younger than we were.
We girl Kolb (my mother’s maiden name) cousins got together at least yearly; however, I saw my boy cousins seldom. When we girls were children, the boys were already grown and in the military in World War II. We idolized them but didn’t really know them very well. When we girls got together, we played house, movie stars, paper dolls, jacks, pick-up sticks, and went to movies at least three or four times a week, sometimes seeing the same movies over and over. Back then, the features didn’t change too often. In the evenings, we put on shows for our grandparents, entertaining them royally.
But I haven’t jumped into my blog today to talk about my Kolb cousins. No . . . I want to talk about my half-cousins and step-cousins on my dad’s side. I never used those designations for them, though, because to me, they were just my cousins. I hate to say that I didn’t know them well, but I didn’t. Back in the ‘40s, miles were longer than they are today. They must have been because going from New Orleans to Florence, Alabama, was much farther than it is in the Twenty-first Century. The 413 miles could have been a thousand. We just didn’t travel all that much back in those days, so I don’t have many specific memories of these cousins.
I do remember one visit because we got into our grandmother’s closet and chose clothes to play in. You can see us all dressed up in the photo posted here. I’m the one on the left on the front row. I lost this photo for many years, but Nancy, my second cousin, found a copy and sent it to me.
And speaking of Nancy . . . she’s the sweet cousin that this post is really about. Here’s a recollection that I’ll never forget. Sometime in the late ‘90s, I went to the National Council of Teachers of English Convention in Chicago. I was fairly newly retired from thirty-two years of teaching English and was working as a sales representative for McDougal Littell Publishing Company. I had been helping other reps work at our booth and had just gone to a sandwich shop in the display hall to grab a bite of lunch.
I found myself standing behind a young teacher who had done just what I always did at these meetings when I was a teacher. She had taken every book, poster, and other freebies that publishers reps would part with. Her arms were full, and everything began to fall. I laughed and began to help her gather her treasures.
“You remind me of myself when I was a teacher.” We both had a chuckle over this, and then Nancy said, “And by the way, you are my cousin.”
What? I know all of my cousins, and this young lady wasn’t one of them!
“I don’t think so.”
“Yes, you are. Was your grandmother Mama Cheatham?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Well, she was my great-grandmother. I’m Barbara Ann’s daughter.”
All of a sudden, I remembered that my cousin Barbara Ann had a daughter who was an English teacher. And here she was, dropping stuff all over the place and entering my life right there in Chicago, a long way from home for both of us. I’m sure we hugged and maybe even sat together while we wolfed down our lunch. I don’t really remember that part. (By the way, she remembers our meeting a bit differently, but I think my memory is better. At least, it’s more exciting!)
For almost twenty years, we have kept up with each other through e-mail and phone calls and we almost immediately began calling each other “Cuz.” She and I are as close as I am with any of my Kolb cousins, and closer than I am with some of them. I imagine the things that we have in common—love of reading, writing, travel, and teaching—are at least in part the reason that we are so close. But even if we didn’t have these common loves, we’d still be friends; however, I’m not so sure how we’d have come to know each other so well if it weren’t for teaching.
Some might call our meeting coincidence, but I don’t believe in coincidence or luck. I believe that God had a plan for both of us, and that plan was for us to meet and to become really good friends. Since that wonderful day in Chicago, in addition to e-mail and phone calls, I have visited her in North Carolina, and she and her parents have visited my husband and me in New Mexico. What fun we had both times!
Just a little something else for anyone who happens to read this entry because of taking the April Challenge . . . Nancy Posey (Alabama Tarheel) is also writing every day, except Sundays, this month. Be sure to read her pieces. She’s an awesome writer! Love ya, Cuz!
That's me on the left and Nancy (Cuz) in the blue dress.