“What I remember about your dad,” my cousin said at a recent family reunion, “is that he was a big kid. He was always in the thick of things, playing with us. He never sat still.”
My cousin’s lip trembled a bit, and tears came to his eyes.
My eyes also went damp, as they always do when my older cousins describe their Uncle Harlan’s antics. Though their memories bring me to tears, I crave their stories.
These cousins remember an uncle who could walk and run and read and write.
A few minutes later, my brother sat down beside me. “Everyone keeps asking when I’m planning to slow down and take it easy. They don’t get it, Jo. They just don’t understand that as long as I can walk, I’m going to walk.”
His words echoed something I had said earlier in the summer.
I was teaching a class about time management and organization at a writing conference. “Some of you don’t realize the gift you’ve been given. You get up in the morning and take your ability to walk and read and write for granted.
“But I don’t.
“I have older cousins who remember my father as the life of the party. He was the uncle who played games with them and played tricks on them. But I remember a father who couldn’t do any of those things. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1959 when he was 29 and I was 2.
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