thank you to my cousin, mike

thank you for sending the forward about the little girl who buys a miracle for her brother.
i wanted to agree with that story, that miracles happen all the time, but sometimes they are happening
and maybe we are too busy or too unbelieving or aren’t even aware, in general, that a gift is taking place.

i’m a doofus because i’m grateful for every sign i get, even if i’m fooling myself into thinking something
positive and/or miraculous has just happened. and i believe the more i am aware and grateful for
those special moments, the more they happen. it’s a circle of awareness followed by gratitude.

so, today, i am going to be grateful for the story you sent because it is going to remind me,
again, that God is saying, “Look, and you’ll see…”

i’m on my way to houston this morning to see my dad for the first time in a week.
i’m grateful because i’m going to get to hold his hand, because my family is traveling with me,
and because i feel something wondrous is going to happen today. i know my dad is most likely gone,
i don’t expect a grand miracle that he will sit up and open his eyes, but i know that a quiet whisper of something
beautiful is going to unfold, and if i am very still, i will get to hear and see the Grace that is in the room,
and that is the gift i want to share with my dad today.

NOTE: my cousin, mike, and i grew up together among the friendship and family of our
siblings, cousins, elder family members over the course of many, many summers and family
reunions in the hills of arkansas and missouri, laughing and playing with frogs and jumpin’
in swimmin’ holes, catchin’ crawfish, pretending we’d grow up to be opera singers or architects,
putting on skits and singing songs for our grandparents in the basement of aunt loretta’s enormous
house…complete with a pool table and a fridge stocked with pepsi. we’d all run down to the
pasture and play in the creeks and hop on, bareback, to the miniature ponies or sometimes, if
we were lucky, my grandpa would come down and saddle up the big horses, which our cousin
amy knew how to ride. we’d all pile in my grandpa’s car before fourth of july and go to the local
fireworks display and we’d load up the trunk with fireworks to take out to the cabin on eagle
lake, where the adults would BBQ and we kids would dare to cross the rope bridge, or go down
the long, winding stone steps to the bottom of the hill where the lake was running like a lazy
snake (which, sometimes, we’d find, too!)…we’d build little boats of sticks and cotton, and then
throw rocks to sink them to the bottom…they’d ring a big, brass bell at the top when dinner
was ready, and we’d fill our bellies ’til they felt like they’d pop, and then it was time for
the fireworks to explode, and we were excited as a bunch of kids can be…i have tons of photos
of uncle harold with duke, his big, black lab…and i remember the mounds of dishes of
pies, cakes, jellies, marshmellow gooey yummy stuff with fruit and the sugar rush
completed with a glass of homemade lemonade, not too sweet, not too sour. the american
flag waving proudly from the porch. falling asleep at night, windows open (screens on!) in a
room full of cousins, everybody whispering, straining to catch what the older kids were
jabbering about, the hazy quiet lull of sleep, waking up the next morning to sunshine
and realizing everyone was already down at the lake, swimming…

i love my memories, and i love the roberts family, my grandmothers’ sister’s side of our family.
i love my grandma’s wedding ring, which i wear proudly, now, as my own, and my grandmother’s
steinway piano, which i can’t play very well, but my kids’ are learning to play. and i
am grateful for family when words fail and hearts can swell because you share something
that words can’t express…a love that has grown over time and travel and quiet and loud
and phones and letters and it is something i only wish my children could experience—
which i try to share through passing on of stories—but i wish they could, truly, have jumped
in the swimmin’ hole with me, and seen cocoa, the giant brown quarterhorse, munching on
my tee shirt, his mouth green from grass, and me having to run up the hill to my grandma’s,
half naked, laughing, free, a child with no worries in a time and space when life is
lush with possibilities and love is all you know.

2 Comments on “thank you to my cousin, mike”

  • You really should write a book!

  • Kay Salem


    I’m an old Illustrator friend of your Dad’s. I’d love to just tell him bye. Would it be an intrusion to ask which Hospital he’s in? I haven’t seen your Dad in many years. We had the great fortune of doing each others portrait in an Illustrator Exchange, maybe in 1990. I also follow your music. My daughter Lonna, and I cam to see you a few times when you were in Houston. Lonna lives in Dallas now. I ordered your Lullybye CD for her Christmas stocking, however she miscarried. I believe she’ll still have her baby. Anyway, I’m off track, Your Dad and I were mostly the only two believers. He had asked for me to come to the Hopital once before back in the 90’s, and I went. I just want to quietly say goodbye. Thanks,
    Kay Salem

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