After the holidays and seeing my only child interact so beautifully with her cousins it reminds me of the ardent love I feel for my own cousins. Remember your favorite cousin growing up? I do. It was Rhonda. She was the older daughter of my dad’s sister and she grew up in California. She was so cool. Mellow, funny, pretty and a great listener. She would write me letters and send me postcards and always make me feel like I was way more important than anyone else around.
The first memory I can recall of her was in 1984 when my mom took me out to see her, her sister Laura, my aunt Rita and my uncle John. They lived in San Diego where they established and operated a motorcross company called JT Racing. Of course we visited Disneyland and the zoo, but the best day was when I got to tag along with Rhonda to the beach. That morning of said beach visit, I was sitting on her bed while she was on the phone with a friend sorting out the details of their date. Naturally I wanted to go with her because a) I had never been to the beach and b) Did I mention how cool Rhonda was? What made me even more excited was that she agreed! and that we had similar swim suits. It was the best time. I don’t think we ever saw her friends which was probably because I made her take me with her.
I had several cousins (11 total) on my dad’s side of the family and Rhonda was one that stood out. She was never too distracted to be my friend, she was never too cool to entertain my imagination and she was very open about any hardships she was going through. Like the rest of us her life was not perfect but she didn’t try to make people think it was. She was very transparent and honest.
Like with every relative we live far from with an age difference and harried schedules, we have lost touch. Even with our lack of geographical nearness, I am so appreciative of her empowering nature that I absorbed from my time with her. I will always remember how she took me to the beach unapologetically and without any hesitation when I was 4. That’s a great way to remember someone.