Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Earliest Memory: Thirty Day Writing Challenge Day 2

I knew exactly what I was going to write about the second I read today's topic. I don't know if this is my earliest memory ... but I know that it's one of them, and it's a special one. 

I am the oldest of ten grandchildren. When I was about four, my aunt, Nadine, (I've always called her "Deene") gave birth to my cousin, Stephen. I remember my grandmother, Mimi, telling me about how much fun it would be to have a cousin; that he or she would be someone I could play with and spend time with. I'm an only child, so the thought of having another little person around sounded like the best thing in all the world. I was excited for this new cousin's arrival ... and I remember the very first time that I saw him.

Stephen was born on December 7th. I'm not exactly sure when it was that I got to meet him for the first time ... now that I look back on it, I'm sure that it was weeks after his birth. I was staying with Mimi, (something I did a lot) and she announced that Deene was bringing Stephen over for a visit. I had long, blonde ponytails, and was wearing a white undershirt ... like a tank top. I was four, and not a fashion statement, but I remember these details really well. I know there is a picture of this momentous occasion floating around somewhere, but I don't know where to find it.
  
I remember the front door opening and Mimi rushing to meet my aunt Deene and uncle Gene. What I wasn't expecting was the small bundle Deene held in her arms. The word 'baby' had been used countless times, but so had the word 'playmate'. I think somewhere in my four-year-old brain I was expecting another child to walk through the door ... grown up enough to share toys and color with.

I'll admit ... I was disappointed - but not for long. Stephen became a very special person to me. In many ways I think I felt like he - and then later both his brother, Jeff and his sister, Anna - became almost like siblings to me.  

I was not quite eight when my aunt and uncle decided to move to Texas. I was heartbroken. I remember the day they left ... and all the tears that their departure prompted. It was about a year later that my mom bought a plane ticket for me, and I embarked upon a solo journey to Texas to visit them. There were a couple of summers that I moved in and spent a month, (perhaps more) with them. During those times, I truly did feel like they were my siblings.

My aunt and uncle weren't able to come back and visit every year, but when they did, it was a huge event that was highly anticipated. I was always so excited about their arrival ... and always hated to see their trips back home come to an end.

Steve and I a day or two before his wedding.
Steve still lives in Texas. I haven't seen him in a little more than three years ... and before then, the time between visits stretched out even longer. He's still one of my favorite people, (although I think it embarrasses him when I tell him that) and I absolutely adore his kids. He and his wife, Laura, have five of them. I've often wished that they lived closer, but since we've all hooked up on Facebook and Instagram, we've been able to share things and be a little more in the know about what's going on with each of our families.

Steve and I  have very different lives ... but we do have some things in common. He's been married to the love of his life for more than twenty years. (If you met Laura, you'd love her, too.) I just celebrated twenty-one years of marriage with my sweetie this past March. My husband, (also named Steve) traveled with me and my family back in 1994 and were in attendance at Steve and Laura's wedding. Eight months later, the two of them were celebrating our wedding day with us. Their first two children arrived in this world at nearly the same time as ours did, and we both chose to become homeschoolers. 

My cousin may not have been exactly what I was expecting back when I was four ... but the memory of our first meeting is still one of the earliest ones I have. He's a pretty cool guy. I think things turned out alright in the end.