My cousin Deb passed away a year ago today. Anyone who knows me well knows that her and I were very close, she was more like a big sister than a cousin. In fact, I’m sure all my other cousins would agree she was that to all of us. She was the oldest cousin and she was very protective of her family and all her wonderful friends.
Those of us who knew her well, know how funny she was, she always had the best stories. Her favourite topic for hilarious stories? Family. The following story is one she always loved to tell, it happened at a big family holiday on a small island in the Hawkesbury River. I would have no clear memory of this day if it weren’t for Deb.
There were lots of us there, I’m not sure of exact numbers but I do know there were, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins. I was four years old and my sixteen year old cousin (Deb) and twenty year old aunty were taking me to the beach. I wasn’t interested in swimming at the beach, I can’t remember why but, knowing me, it was probably because the water was too brown. Instead, I chose to write everyone’s names in the sand. I had just discovered writing and I loved it. I was paying no attention to my babysitters, apart from occasionally enquiring about the spelling of the more difficult names, much to their amusement.
Once I had finished my work of art, I turned around to find not my aunt and my cousin but two very dirty girls, covered neck to toe in mud! While I had been doing my best to pretty up the sand, they had been having a mud fight. I was disgusted! I was going to tell my mum on them and she was going to smack their bottoms. Of course I can see the funny side now. A four year old, running ahead of two girls covered in mud, horrified and embarrassed to be seen with such naughty girls and worried they might get me dirty.
When we returned to the holiday house, them looking for hilarity to ensue and me expecting them to get a hiding, my two year old brother had gone missing. No-one noticed us at all. Everyone was frantically looking for my little brother who, as it turned out, had gone off on a little tricycle ride. They eventually found him on the jetty, right near the waters edge, wondering what all the fuss was about.
Once everyone had started breathing again, the girls got the laughs they were looking for and the moment was captured on film. I’m sure there are better photos out there but this is the only one I have.
This is how I like to remember my cousin, not covered in mud, but telling those hilarious stories with that big grin and contagious laugh. We all told these stories in the hospital when we knew she was leaving us, we told them at her wake and we’ll keep on telling them until they stop being funny. They just won’t ever stop being funny.
Love and miss you always, my beautiful cousin.