I loved my cousin, Donna Dee. Not sure why, but I am missing her today.
She was ten years older than I and I knew she was the coolest person on the planet. She told me things no one else would and she always had stories about my mom. She’d often tell me that the two of us were very special; just like my mom and her, she and I were ten years apart in age.
Donna was the daughter of my mom’s oldest sister, Charlotte. That’s the two of them in the picture I’ve posted today. Donna lived with my Grandma most of the time when she was growing up. Because of that, she spent a lot of time with my mom before my mom married my dad. For me, going to Gram’s was the best place on earth. It was the place where I felt the most special and the place I got to be around my three favorite people, my Grandpa, my Gram, and my cousin, Donna.
Donna taught me all the things every little girl needed to know. Some things, I’m pretty sure my mom wished she’d waited a little longer to show me. She had so much wonderful big girl stuff. She taught me how to roll my hair in those painful brush rollers and gave me hints on how to get those little pink pic things to really hold the rollers tightly to your head. I learned how to “tease” my hair and fell in love with the smell of hair spray. She showed me how to use lipstick, telling me how important it was to blot–that final blot was what helped the color last so it wouldn’t smear when you kissed your boyfriend. That always made me giggle–me–a boyfriend.
I loved having all those kiss marked kleenexes around us as we talked. Almost as much as I loved being with Donna–the one person who always knew how to make me feel like I was cool, too.
There was only one time when she did not share. I’d found a little bar of square chocolates on her dresser. To my kid eyes, they looked like someone had shrunk a Hershey bar. See what I mean, she really had super neat things! I asked in all the ways I could think of–please, please, please, could I have just one piece. She would NOT share. Well, I said to my young self, I’ll just wait until she leaves. I’ll only take a couple–she’ll never miss them.
She did miss them.
She never told on us kids–she did this time. Man, I thought, this must have been some really special stuff. First, she wouldn’t share and now she told on me–I mean–us.
My Dad came over to my sisters and me, asking us who had taken Donna’s chocolates? Not me, I said. I was feeling very put out because she did not share. PLUS, they tasted terrible. I’d thrown a lot of it in the trash. So, really, since I’d thrown it way had I really taken them?
His look focused on me for a few more seconds–I was thinking, rationalizing it all in my head. I stood my ground.
“Okay,” he said, shaking his head and chuckling, “The truth will come out soon enough.”
Very early that morning, the truth indeed came screaming out as one stubborn little kid barely made it the bathroom. Man, I thought, that must have been some seriously bad chocolate! It was then they told me I had eaten EX-Lax, medicine, not candy. Geez Louise, no wonder it tasted so bad.
Oh, the lessons we learn. It was a very very long time before I asked anyone for chocolate.
Love and peace, Y’all.