Today is my cousin Cathy’s birthday.
It would also have been Grandma Virginia’s 91st birthday. (Happy Birthday Gram! I still miss you!)
I share Grandma’s name (my middle name is Virginia), Cathy shares her birthdate. Grandma always said “honey cousin” instead of “cousin” in order to give full weight to this very special relationship.
Cathy was the first one who called me after I learned our Grandma had died. She was the first one I wanted to talk to and I’m so glad she called me since she lives in Italy now and I have no idea how to call her. She’s smart like that though, and she was so good to call our Grandma all the time and amuse her with funny stories about goats and vineyards and tractors. Who knew when we were growing up that Cathy would come to know about goats and vineyards and tractors?!
Cathy was the cousin nearest to me in age and we had many a caper growing up. She was my person for so many years. She talked me into shaving my legs and plucking my eyebrows for the very first time (Mom wasn’t so sure it was time but I thank you!). I trusted her because she was older and wiser, and let’s face it, way cooler than me in the social hierarchy (we went to the same schools).
When we were young we grew our hair long and measured to see whose was longest. She always won because mine was straighter than straight and hers was curly so when you stretched hers it was always longer.
She always wanted straight hair and I always wanted curly hair. We used to get our hair done at the same place and she would be getting hers chemically straightened while I was perming mine.
We spent many days together at our grandma’s. Grandma had a closet with all of her fancy clothes and old prom and wedding dresses of my mom and aunts. There were accessories and dyed to match shoes and Cathy and I would spend hours trying things on and pretending we were in pageants.
One time Cathy was over at my house and talked me into running away because she was mad at her mom for some random reason. I wasn’t mad at mine, but somehow she convinced me that we should take my life savings ($.49, no lie) and hike to grandma’s 40 miles away. We were convinced grandma would never rat us out so we started walking.
We lived in a small town so of course we ran into someone we knew (Cathy’s aunt on her mom’s side) at Circle K when we went in to spend my life savings (which only purchased a small grapefruit juice which neither of us liked but we thought we should hydrate). Just out for a stroll, we said.
We continued on but regrets started creeping in. By the time the sheriff spotted us, we were totally ready to go home. Cathy returned to a hero’s welcome and I was grounded. Really?
I love my honey cousin. She is beautiful and funny and thoughtful. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this weekend without her.