My close-knit family

On my mom’s side, there are fifteen grandkids born over a period of ten years: my eldest uncle has five, my mom two, and five and three by my other uncles. Sometimes you have those cousins that live out of state that you love to see, but are not oh so close to because of the distance; but the fifteen of us – we would see each other every Monday for a family dinner and Bible study. My grandfather held us together, like glue. It’s been 18 years since he passed away, but his impact in our lives still lives on. Here is a picture of nearly all of us when we were young (excuse the glare):

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There are a lot of things about him that I remember: 1) he was well respected, but not always well liked 2) he always looked over his reading glasses at you with his head bowed down slightly, with a stare that would gasify molten lava and 3) I as the second oldest grandchild (and oldest male grandchild) seemed to always be treated as grandchildren usually are – until that one day…

One day, the next male cousin in line (yes, for the throne) and I were in the backyard of our grandparent’s house on a Monday. They had a pool, but it wasn’t the season for swimming and of course, no one was supervising us at the time. We found a tennis ball that was covered in mud and decided to play one of the greatest games ever conceived: wall. Okay, you may have never heard of this game, so here it goes: you take a ball and play handball with a slight rule change; namely, you miss, you must run to the wall and get there before someone gets the ball and throws it at you. I don’t recommend playing with anyone on the baseball team; and please, no headshots.

So my cousin and I, aged ten and twelve respectively, should’ve had a conversation that went like this:

Lightbulb: So I found this tennis ball, it’s kind of muddy. How about we play wall?
Cousin that is second-in-line: You know, there could be a problem with that – you know what the color of the back of the house is right?
Lightbulb: I’m colorblind, remember.
That cousin again: It’s white, what you can’t see white?
Lightbulb: Oh yeah, I can. And black too, both of my parents are black (that’s incorrect – my dad is white). So you think if we throw the ball against the house, they’ll be black spots all over and that will be an issue when Pop-pop (my grandfather) comes home?
One more time, that cousin: Brown spots. And yes, it’ll be problem. Let’s do something else.

So that’s not what happened because 1) I’m not that colorblind (or color vision deficient – let’s be P.C. about this please) and 2) we lacked at twelve and ten the reasoning ability to make that decision. So yes, there were dark colored spots on a white wall on the house. I wish I remember who won the game, but what I do remember is when Pop-pop got home.

I had never seen him so angry. He couldn’t understand why we couldn’t see that this was a bad idea. I cried until my mom got there. She laughed. Common sense and intelligence don’t often go hand-in-hand.

The most difficult experience I had was not that one with my grandfather. It was when he took me one time to get my haircut and he couldn’t figure out how to roll up the window of the car. He passed away within the year. But that’s not how I like to remember him and my intention was not to make this difficult to read but at times this memory is too hard a cross to bear alone. My apologies to my family for having to share and get it off my chest.

Despite his passing, the glue still sticks and we’re still close as cousins. Some of us have moved out of state but that does not keep the groups of us that live close to one another from getting together almost weekly – or from considering that we should all settle our families in the same, less expensive area of the country. I hope that is able to happen at some point and we can all be together again on a weekly basis – just not on Mondays, I hate Mondays.