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.