Monday, June 6, 2011

In Memory

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:20

My cousin Jamie died on Friday.

She was 34 years old.

Cancer was her killer.

Her survivors include her husband, two young girls, mom, dad, and a slew of aunts, uncles and cousins, including me, even if I was technically her stepcousin.

My stepdad, Roy, was one of eight children. Roy’s family would get together nearly every weekend during the summertime and have a cookout or potluck or some kind of get together. Usually we played touch football or ran around like crazy people. Sometimes we would fish; sometimes we would go on adventures down in the woods. There were always a whole herd of cousins to play with no matter the time of day.

Jamie’s mom is Roy’s sister. Both Jamie and I were only children in our respective families. She was six months younger than I am, so we were a natural pairing.

She was my first sleepover.

My first sleepover birthday party with a bunch of girls.

My first “dance” birthday party with another bunch of girls.

My first horse ride occurred at her house on a horse named Pet.

We had a picnic once down by her pond and 780,000 blackbirds (give or take a few) landed in the tree above us and pooped on our picnic. We screamed and ran back to the house.

Jamie’s house had an above ground pool with a deck to jump off of.

It also always had a bunch of round bales of hay to feed the cows through the winter, but Jamie and I would run on the tops of them.

She had a dog named Country and later another named Okie.

She and I would drive the old pickup trucks in the hayfield in the summer while the adults threw the bales on the back.

We would sing along with the radio and eat chips, and candy bars, and drink Dr. Pepper.

She had red hair and more freckles than me.

Our favorite song was “Wild, Wild West” by the Escape Club.

Over the years and after my stepdad died, I lost track of most of his family. But through the magic of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with a lot of them in the past couple of years. I remember asking Jamie about her illness related posts and she told me about her cancer.

Her funeral is today, some 8 or 9 hours away from my house. I joked that if I had to drive that far with my two boys, we’d most likely have to have another funeral when we got there.

And it would probably be me!

My kids, however, had been petitioning for an end of school party for about a month. They wanted to have all their friends over to go swimming and play at our house. So, after a couple of weeks of announcing its coming, we made that happen last night. We invited friends from school, church, and soccer. We had the pool set up and made a redneck slip and slide out of a big piece of plastic. We roasted hot dogs and everyone brought something to share. We had 57 people all together! Our biggest party ever.

And it felt a lot like one of my stepdad’s family gatherings. Even though we weren’t all related, the kids had a wild time, and played together without any major conflicts for the entire evening. The adults sat in lawn chairs, eating, talking, and watching the kids have the time of their life. It was a little hot, but no one complained, especially after we broke out the water balloons.

A good time was had by all.

Especially me.

I was so excited after the party that I didn’t go to sleep until after midnight. I couldn’t believe how many people showed up. I was happy that they’d all seemed to have a good time. I was glad we had enough food. I was overjoyed to know so many great families with such good kids.

And I know the joy that kept me from sleeping last night is probably like the joy Jamie felt on Friday when she entered through the gates of heaven. Free from sickness, free from pain, and reunited with so many great people she lost along her way.

So even though no one else at our party knew my cousin, I feel it was a sort of tribute to the memory of a wonderful, God loving, young lady. She would have been there if she could!

1 comment:

  1. Mick-
    You shake me up!
    Uncle Don


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