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A Letter to My Cousin and Friend

As I was cleaning out our home office today, I came across an old college notebook from a writing course I had taken at Baylor. Our assignment was to write a letter to someone filled with memories of time spent together. I had chosen to write to my cousin Lori and, although it was a rough draft, I just had to post it. I finished out the last part and laughed out loud at some of the superfun memories with Lori, my cousin and friend.

Dear Lori,

As I reflect on the time we have spent together, I remember so many wonderful memories with you. Laughter always comes first to mind because we have shared so much of it. We start out giggling over some trivial nothing and soon are rolling in teary-eyed, side-splitting, I-can’t-catch-my-breath laughter. Days later, we will laugh again when one thought triggers another and we think of the same funny thing. After all, we are ‘more funny repeated.’

Our memories together are vast and varied for they have been collecting since, well, basically from birth. When we were little, we spent a lot of time with our cousins. I remember we both loved Craig, not realizing we couldn’t marry a cousin. We were always semi-afraid of Donna Kaye because she was so much older and wiser than we were. And we called Felicia everything from Fe to Fe-Dale to Fe-Fe and Flee, and she answered to each. I remember how much we looked forward to being together; in my mind’s eye, I can see us posted by Granny and Papa’s front window, looking for our cousins to arrive. We would see their car pull into the driveway, and run to the porch screaming, “The Red Heads are coming! The Red Heads are coming!”

Our first picture together ... I am 4 months old!
Granny and Papa were such a big part of our childhoods. I can see all the grown-ups gathered around the dining room table, playing cards or marbles while the kids played. I remember playing ‘bus’ on the stair rail in Granny and Papa’s room (Donna Kaye always got to be the driver!), making tents out of sheets for spook houses and peeling grapes to be edible ‘eyeballs’, dressing in Granny’s slips and bras and shoes, playing in the creek behind their house, and endless fish fries in the backyard.

You and me with some red-headed cousins at Granny's breakfast bar.
Granny was so good to us! She would wake up early and make eight different breakfasts for us. Do you remember how mad our parents would get? “They’ll eat whatever you fix,” they would say. Granny would just smile and nod and continue taking orders. Of course, you and I were the easiest to please. A bowl of King Vitamin and we were set for the day. I recall how devastated we were when we came across that cereal later in life and we were so excited to try it again … only to realize it tasted a lot like soggy cardboard. Ugh!
Look ... we were kissing cousins!
A true testament that you and I can have fun in any circumstance, we always had a great time on my family’s farm. We rode horses, climbed on hay bales, fed chickens, watched sheep, and worked in the garden. I remember being scared of the dead horse in the hayloft (are we really so daft? don't you just love the word 'daft'?), waking the sheep up to feed them, and sleepovers! “I’m under the gun with a bed! Don’t shoot or I’ll move you!” Rudy yelling at us for waking him up after we made flying leaps from the bed to the floor; Randal beating you with a broom because you clearly did not understand the basics of playing the part of a bull; “’Pank me harder … ‘pank me right here!”

We also had great times at your house on Grand. We watched “This House Possessed” with Morris the Cat, laughed at Whoopi and her long, luxurious blond hair and the old raisin, and were spied on by an unnamed admirer … I remember your dad, a chase, and a gun, but I’m not entirely clear on the details.

More memories flood my mind …

• you helping me dry my eternally-wet hair while we were trying to watch “Jaws” at my house on California Street (I think my hair suffered split ends for years because of that night),

• your mother screaming “DO - YOU - HAVE - ANY - CHERRY - COKE!??!?” at the poor Taco Casa worker,

• singing “I wish I was in Princeton” and “There’s only one Traci Adkins and one Lori Partain” on the way to the Gainesville football game,

• swimming at Lake Kiowa with our parents,

• staying at Papa’s cabin on Rock Creek at Lake Texoma and having ‘who can hold their breath the longest’ contests with the cousins, all of whom cheated,

• eating a massive cherry cheesecake on my birthday,

• listening to “Lean on Me” while making the drag with Michael and Kenny, watching “Sleepaway Camp” (who picked that out, anyway?), and playing Pictionary … “Yup, that’s the answer – a man with a box in his neck!”

• Tasha the Pomeranian eating our green donuts, and Shadow the Cairn Terrier trying to eat Tasha the Pomeranian
Us with the aforementioned cheesecake .
Then came the college years! We spent a lot of time doing our own things at our own schools, but still managed to have a blast when we got together. The summer after you graduated was one of the best times we’ve had and I can never thank you enough for making it fun for me. It was my ‘work for food’ summer since you had a job and I didn’t! I remember our determination to be skinny and tan – did I just say ‘our’ determination? It was your determination; I was just along for the ride. I was forced into plain bean burritos with no sour cream, water with no ice, and sneaking into aerobics at the Boys’ Club!

It was also the summer we watched and memorized “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “The Little Mermaid” … an odd combination if ever there was one!

Ooooo … I like to dance a little side-step!

Texas has a whorehouse in it! Lord have mercy on our souls!

And then we grew up and got married and still managed to be cousins-and-friends.  You are a wonderful psuedo-aunt/second-cousin-twice-removed to my boys and have always helped me see the lighter side of parenting life.  When I wanted to choke Trey, you found the humor in his "No, no!  Not 1-2-3!"  When it was time to make messy peanut butter bird feeders, you were right there with us.  You've even helped me explain that their Pop's name is not "Tiery" despite what their great-aunt Donna says.

Making super-messy peanut butter bird feeders with the boys.
You truly are my cousin-and-friend, confidante, and one of my favorite people in the world.  You listen without judging and laugh without asking why.  From early morning shopping on Black Friday (which I realize is pure entertainment for you) to Mom’s annual Halloween party (and our annual s’mores!), to singing at Mig’s just because you love me, it’s always so much fun to be with you.

At the 2008 Halloween Hayride

2009 Halloween Hayride

Thank you for being a fabulous cousin-and-friend … I look forward to more memory-making and side-splitting laughter in our future!

Our infamous 'skinny pose' ... Kari still just doesn't get it.  =)

A little more current pic ... with Papa and a few more of our cousins.


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