Today I was thinking about my cousin, Mejol.
What I was thinking is what I would say about her.
And this is how it would go: "I have no brothers and sisters, but I am not an 'only child'--I had Mejol."
Mejol is 6 years older than me and my parents had adopted her as a sort of child of theirs before I was born. Mejol wasn't an orphan--she had a mother (my mother's sister, Georgia) and a brother (Bradley) named for my father. But her father, the other "Jim" on my mother's side (several more "Jim's" on my father's side) had what would now be known as PT SD. from being in the navy in the Pacific in WWII. He wandered away a lot and spent his last years in a VA hospital in Virginia.
But Mom and Dad were childless and growing older (in those days, 38 and 41 were 'older') so they had Mejol be a surrogate
So, when I came along, Mejol was still around and was at our home a lot as we were at hers. She went on vacations with us to the Smokey Mountains for several years. (Why Appalachians went to the mountains for vacations is an unanswered question.)
She corrected my spelling all through school--I still can't spell and thank God for spell-check on the computer except that no matter how many times I tell it to 'ignor' Mejol's name, it won't.
She also, when I was 12 or so, locked me in her room with a copy of Catcher in the Rye and an album by Bob Dylan. That afternoon literally changed my life forever. It drug me out of just being a boy from the coal fields that I had been, to something else. Better or worse, I'll leave to you--but, believe you me, I was never the same after Salinger and Dylan.
I talked with her for almost an hour tonight on the phone. She still keeps me from being 'an only child'.
I love her so. She has molded and formed me in more ways than I can tell you.
For example, she is the only other person on either side of my family that is an Episcopalian!
My journey to the Episcopal Church was made possible because she made the journey first.
Imagine how profound that is to me.
I hope you think about something this New Year that formed and shaped you and made you who you are the way Mejol did for me.
That would be my New Year's gift to you.
Happy, Happy One!
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