"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Memories of a favorite cousin

Carolyn thanking me for a Christmas present.
How can you measure what people mean to you, when they've been a part of you since before you can remember?
I don't know, and this morning's phone call from my cousin Sarah Beth Foote about the death of my cousin Carolyn Gee Wilson just made me more aware.
There are old black and white photos of us together when we were babies. As young kids on our vacations,  I can remember playing mud-pies and stuff in her backyard. There are some faded color photos and slides when we were pre-teens and perhaps teens. I can remember walking  down to the corner store for candy, or driving to a drive-in for Dr. Pepper on hot summer days in Silsbee.  
1945 cousins--Charlotte and Carolyn Gee, Sarah and Charles Lutrick, and me. Grandad Ezra.T. Culp in background.
Years later
I went to her wedding, and have visited her husband's grave with her.  She was always slight, almost frail, but strong and good inside. When I attended her mother's funeral (my Mom's sister) several years ago, another cousin showed up drunk, and Carolyn threw him out. A few years ago during a dark time in my life, I visited and she and I drove around looking for old Culp homesteads. We went out one night in Beaumont to eat and dance. How far back does this cousin family go? I'll always be "Terry Mike" to them. 
The Gee sisters, 3 years ago, the way I'll always remember Carolyn and Sandy.
The last time I saw her was three years ago at a family reunion in East Texas, and an evening meal at a Mexican restaurant. Since then she dwindled to about 70 pounds and lived in a nursing home.
She was five months old when I was born, and had what most folks would call not an easy life. She and Larry were never rich--in fact had very little, but they were happy together and raised three good children. She's the second Gee sister to die this year. Her younger sister Sandy was murdered in April, and that was traumatic, even with a cousin reunion in Austin a week later, that Carolyn couldn't attend. We knew Carolyn was fading, and her death is not traumatic, because she's in a much better place now. But it is still, well...just deep. She is special.
I wanted to go to the funeral, but because of an discomforting illness can't make it. But I will be there in spirit, and I will somehow visit your grave, my cousin.
Three of us are now gone since this reunion three years ago at cousin Sarah Foote's. Carolyn, second from left, Charles, third from right, and Sandy, kneeling at right.


1 comment:

  1. So sorry time flies so fast and we live too short.

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