Last week I lost a cousin and I had to pause for a moment as I thought about my childhood. I initially thought James William Bell was my oldest First Cousin but was reminded by Mama that Aunt Willie still has two children living, Margaret and GW living somewhere in Iowa. I asked myself how I could forget about them as we spent just about every Christmas at their home for dinner. Aunt Willie could make rolls that would melt in your mouth and Margaret would ALWAYS show off her piano skills. GW was not very sociable, maybe because he was much older than me and usually he would always have to work on Christmas. Aunt Willie had another son Herman, now deceased and I remember him wanting to just leave Omaha, he did and became one of the few real Black cowboys.
I considered myself close to all my First Cousins, but upon hearing the death of James William I realized just how far our families have grown apart. Aunt Willa Mae (James William Mom) was a second Mom to me. I remember calling her one morning to get permission to wear my Sunday shoes to school, because I could not find my school shoes. James William had two brothers, Wendall and Larry, one sister Pamela. We spent so much time together that it was hard to tell we were two separate families. Yet somewhere along growing up we all grew apart and I pause to ponder what happen to that closeness we shared as kids.
I am blessed to still have my Mom (she turns 91 this year), my brother, and sister and so fortunate to have reconnected with Jayme (via Facebook), James William daughter and her mother Jeanette. As Jayme prepares to bury her Father this week I pray that she will remember as I did when I buried my Father, you only get to have one AND you don’t get to choose. For the good times and bad times, I loved my Dad and only the good times are in my memory; that is what I would like to encourage Jayme to remember, the good times.