Losing My Two Favorite Cousins
I, we all lost our two most cherished cousins.
In Memory of:
When I was about six years old, we lived in Georgia, Mom was recovering from Rheumatic Fever, and I was very ill, and not expected to live long enough to reach age nine years.
The telephone rang, and Mom answered. It was my Dad's youngest sister, Helen calling from Altadena, California.
I knew from Mom's face that something was dreadfully wrong. She got ears in her eyes, and was trying to both get the details and to console Aunt Helen. My dear, sweet cousin Jerry had died. He was only eight years old, and had always been such a great kid.
Finally, when Mom got off the phone, she knew we had overheard, so there was really no reason to try to hide it from us kids.
It seemed that while Aunt Helen was preparing their (Easter) Sunday breakfast, Jerry along with his two older brothers Jack and Bob, were outdoors playing whatever is was the boys played.
Uncle Harry was in the living room reading the Sunday Paper, and everything appeared to be as any other holiday weekend morning.
Suddenly, Jerry threw open the laundry room door, and was screaming, in flames from head to his hips. Aunt Helen quickly grabbed the kitchen rug from in front of the sink, and smothered the flames, as quickly as she could, burning her own hands in the process.
Jerry had apparently found some gasoline for the lawnmower, and matches. While doing what boys do, he was experimenting, and was severely burned. He lived for three days, laughing and talking (as his Mother told my Mother) until he died. His lungs were too damaged from breathing in the flames while trying to escape the flames, and screaming.
In Memory of:
Lucille died at age nine, of the effects of Muscular Dystrophy, (MS).
Lucille was one of the sweetest girls, and I didn't get a chance to know her as well as I wanted to, as she was always in a wheel chair, and barely able to hold up her own head.
Things have improved somewhat since the early 1950s, but then, there was really no hope for her, once she was diagnosed.
I remember Lucille two ways. I was only six when I first met Lucille, and of course I did not really know what was wrong with her for some time, other than just having to be careful not to accidentally hurt her, and try to spend a little time with her so she wouldn't feel so left out of things we other kids were able to do, until I myself got ill.
When I was about 7 or 8, we got the call, telling us that dear Lucille had finally died, and though she was no longer suffering and fighting to breathe, we all just wanted her to be alive again.
When we attended Lucille's funeral, and walked by her casket, I peered in to say my silent good bye. I was shocked to see that she appeared older that my next door neighbor, Mrs. Spillers, who was very shriveled and wrinkled.
To this day, I think often of Lucille and Jerry, and I am now 65, though I was supposed to die before age nine myself.
I had overheard my doctor telling my father that I was dying, and after seeing Lucille like that, I wanted to look nice for my own approaching demise and funeral.
I was afraid that if I were to die in my sleep, and be all curled up, I would not look right in my casket. So, I went to sleep every night lying on my back, with my arms crossed on my chest with my hands one on top of the other.