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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
Mom, wife, aspiring queen of the whole world...you're invited to live there when it's ready.
The Hard Part
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July 14, 2012 12:01 a.m.

I normally keep the tone of my blog light, occasionally straying into more serious territory.  Today is one one of those times. I lost someone special this week, my cousin Paul.  He had struggled with depression for many years and this week, it won. 
Paul was five years older than me, the oldest of the grandchildren on my father's side of the family.  To us, the houseful of girl cousins, Paul and his brothers were exotic, exciting creatures.  They were the brothers we never had, the first exposure to boy behaviors and cool boy stuff.  We had Barbies, they had Hot Wheels with miles of orange track in the basement.  We were jealous of their sister, Peggy, to have all those boys around...I think she spent any number of years disagreeing.  These boys were funny, loud, gross and endlessly fascinating to me and my sisters. We spent holidays together, countless summer days and evenings, we would plead with our parents to let us spend the night, we reveled in the attention of these strange alien life forms. 
Of all those boys, none were as fascinating to me as the oldest, Paul.  He was the center of the fun, handsome and hilariously funny, he looked just like Donny Osmond to me (an opinion he nether shared nor appreciated!) and I thought the world revolved around him.  Paul was my first big crush and I would follow him like a puppy.  I'm sure his idea of a good time at 13 years old was having his eight year old cousin dogging his every move.  He was endlessly patient and unfailingly kind to what I imagine was an annoying little tag along.
Family events were noisy and hilarious as we grew up, Paul and Andy, the next oldest of the boys, were our own family comedy duo.  They were Lewis and Martin without the smoking jackets or the Smothers Brothers without the snark.  Quick witted and clever, if one didn't have a smartass comment to fit the moment, the other usually did.  A viewing of old family movies featuring my two older sisters wearing horrible early 70s high-waisted dresses prompted comments of  "They were so poor they had to sell their torsos."  I have never been able to look at "empire waist" dresses without giggling madly since that time.I cannot watch or even refer to "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" without thinking of him.
I come from a family of really smart people, I mean REALLY smart people.  Not the easiest environment for someone who was a less than stellar student (me).  Paul got it, he and I used to refer to each other as "the other C student in the family".  It was reassuring to me that the star of the family was also my ally in the ongoing grade war with the rest of the clan.  It was not easy when even our respective younger siblings outshone us academically, but having someone who knew what it was like made it a damn sight easier.
 It was the 80s...shut up.
He died this week, but the depression took him away from us quite some time ago.  My family is less without him, I lost my companion in our sea of smarty-pants relatives.
He married a gorgeous and wonderful woman who stuck in there when a lot of people would have cut their losses and run for safety.  They had two of the most wonderful kids I have ever met.  Both Madeline and Joe inherited Paul's magnetism.  You WANT them to like you because they are so cool, and funny, and charming and you're cooler because you get to hang around them.  That's how he was, you felt lucky that you got to be around him. 
We didn't see each much of each these past few years because he didn't want anyone to see that he was a failure, that's what he thought of himself. This is the part I will never understand.  I look at his wife, his kids, the overwhelming love his family has for him and see success, not failure.  I wish I could have told him that.  I wish I could have made him see himself through our eyes, not his eyes, the eyes that only saw the illness. 
I loved him and I will miss him forever.

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