This is my cousin, Bobby. Well, Robert Michael really, who now goes by Bob but in this picture he is Bobby. Bob is turning 70 today. Our mothers are sisters. As we were growing up they lived a few miles from us in Sacramento. So I love this dear cousin and he is like my brother. In fact, he is the only person I know today that has been a part of my life since the day I was born. Of all our cousins, he and his older brother, Billy, were the only ones we ever lived near.
William Kenneth, AKA Billy
I have so many memories of them growing up. Our moms were close so we were together a lot. All the holidays for sure and many many other just plain ole ordinary days. It was wonderful. We lived in a housing tract but they lived in a little paradise for kids. It was rural with acreage and farm animals and a barn and pastures and a chicken coup. They even had a Grandpa that lived above their garage in a really nice apartment. It was pure heaven to be there. They had cows and chickens and dogs. Their family sure loves dogs. They had a little dog named Perky that was very special to them. They had a portrait of him on their wall. In fact, as I write this and have added the photos of my cousins I am pretty sure these same photos were right up there beside Perky, one on each side of him!
I remember some other really unique little things about their house. Aunt Wilma bought the most wonderful smelling hand soap. It was green and oval and I loved using it. We always had the white soap with sharp angular edges at our house and those oval green bars were so fabulous. I loved the feel of them in my hands.
They had those old-fashioned (now) metal chairs in their backyard that were all the beautiful colors and had a rounded shell shaped back on them. I think they rocked a little, well it was more like they were bouncy. Do you remember these?
I'd love some of them in our backyard now they are so comfortable and colorful. I use to love to sit in one of those chairs and look up into the big trees they had all over their yard. My favorite one was the rosy peach one but I'd take the sky blue or forest green if my favorite was in use. I think some of the trees were sycamore trees and I loved them. They had the biggest lawn in the front of their house too. In the summer it was cool and breezy with those big shade trees. They made those hot Sacramento days bearable.
They had a big brown cow that I use to watch my Uncle Bill milk sometimes. They named her Bonnie. I've never been too sure how I felt about that...even then? But I'll consider it an honor to protect my self-esteem. Same with another Aunt and Uncle that named their motor boat after me. What the? I see old photos of my Auntie Grace sitting in their boat that had my name in calligraphy "Bonnie Jo" on the side of it. When our little granddaughter was named Hazel Jo I was honored to have a little girl (finally a person) with my middle name.
I remember running and playing at their house and all the cool little nooks and crannies where kids could hang out and not be cooped up like in a tract house with a fenced yard. I liked the gravel driveway that crunched when you walked or drove on it. And shooting a real gun at a target when we got much older. I think the dads supervised that one.
After that when we thought we were too old to "play"we migrated to the boys' bedrooms to chat about things, play music, etc. I remember Bob playing his guitar and telling me all about high school. When he was there and I was only a mere child in junior high. I hung on his every word not knowing if I was excited or petrified by what lay ahead for me. He enjoyed being older and wiser and gave me lots of advice. So did Billy! I thrived on that role of not being the oldest...like I was at my house. They really helped me a lot. I knew the names of every cool car, how to dance (or so I thought) and what music was "cherry" because of them. There is so much more, so many heart prints of those days.
Our Thanksgivings and Christmases with our dads smoking, lounging around and playing cribbage and watching football is vivid still. I can just hear them saying "15-2, 15-4 and a pair is 8" while they slammed down their cards on the coffee table with a grin! Meanwhile our moms cooked and prepared these amazing feasts for all of us. They would chat and giggle a lot as they did this in the kitchen and always with a dress and an apron on...never pants. And the boy cousins were always trying to sneak pie out of the mud room where they had been set to cool and be out of the way during the dinner preparations. And if I'm not mistaken I think the boys succeeded a time or two at snatching a taste of the pies and our parents got after them for it. Good times for sure. I hold them so close to my heart now. It's funny how the years teach you what is most important. Like those carefree, childhood memories that shaped and bonded us forever. Just the everyday simple things that make family special. They were simpler days; the innocence and wholesomeness of them wash over me and I feel very nostalgic. There are so many more things I could share.
Neither one of my cousin married young. But when they did they both married such great women. Both Beth, Bob's wife and Leanne, Billy's wife are wonderful. My sweet cousin Billy died at a young age (56) of heart disease. That was such a shock, I'll never forget it. Within 18 months Bob had lost his only brother, his dad and then his mom. That was very sad, just too much really. He and Beth don't live too far away and we have done a lot together since then. They have a lovely family of three daughters and some grandkids to keep them busy as well as happy.
Some things I love about Bob...He is so sweet and I love his laugh. He has an awesome sense of humor and I love the twinkle in his eyes when he finds something humorous, or even better hilarious, and just watching him enjoy it is the best. He was so good to his parents and helped them through their difficult years while his father took care of his mom and then suddenly died four months before she did. He is a really GOOD person. He gives great hugs! He has a sweet relationship with Beth and is kind and helpful. He still loves animals so much and if I know him at all, he is still grieving over his beloved Misty after a couple of years. He use to take her out to sea on his commercial fishing boat and shared a twenty four inch bunk with her. She was a big beautiful lab.
He taught me the importance of following your dreams. When he was in high school he use to say he was going to build a boat and be a fisherman. I'm sure he got a lot of eye rolls on that one. Well, guess what? It took him awhile but he did it! And he was a successful commercial fisherman most of his life. He is a lot like Jim, he knows how to work hard and get a job done. He is retired from fishing now but still he loves the sea. He and Beth love to travel all over the world and most times they cruise to do it.
They are so bright and knowledgeable about so many things and are so well-read. We like the same movies, picnics, hanging out together and Cleo Lane, The Straight Story, and Kenny Rankin! We love getting together occasionally with my brothers and their wives and watching old rock stars in concert on the Big Screen. It is kind of a hoot to see how old those people are now. Not us mind you...just them! We spend Christmases together again sometimes and other holidays depending on all the kids and our schedules. And nobody throws a crab feed like they use to with crab fresh off the boat. What's not to love? Cousins are the best.
Have a wonderful birthday, Bobby! Love you and Beth so much! Big hugs from us to you today and every day!
Eat Cake, it's your birthday!
❤♡♥♡❤♡♥♡❤♡♥s, Bon and Jim