When I was little, I used to like the book Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
Today I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. I think I liked it because I had eight cousins, five from an aunt and uncle on my mother’s side and three from an aunt and uncle on my father’s side. Eight terrific cousins.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to Lesley, the eldest cousin on my father’s side. Today is her birthday.
Lesley is a year and a half younger than I. We spent a lot of time together when we were little, especially around the holidays. Her family moved away when we were six and seven, so we saw less of each other after that. We did end up at the same university, where our attendance overlapped for a while.
As I remembered that her birthday was approaching, I recalled so many little things about our childhood. I was the shy one, fearful of doing anything daring or talking to anyone I didn’t know or getting dirty. Lesley was the opposite. Everyone was Lesley’s new best friend. She loved to express herself in song and expressive dance.
Once, while the kids put on a show for the adults at a holiday party, Lesley took the stage (the hearth in our family room) and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to put on a magic show!” She began her first trick and then said to the audience, “Everyone, close your eyes.”
There are several stories of how Lesley’s curiosity and creativity led her to adventure. Up a ladder onto the roof when she was two. Putting Baker’s chocolate in the toaster in the middle of the night. (Haven’t we all wanted to try that?) This photo shows how Lesley’s front teeth suffered during one of her acts of daring. Oh, to have been like Lesley. Arms stretched out, Here I am, world!
My younger cousin used to look up to me. When I was allowed to wear perfume at age 14 (Love’s Fresh Lemon Body Splash, to be exact), she talked her mother into getting her a bottle of Jean Naté.
Truly, it is I who looks up to her. As grown women, Lesley’s the refined one and I’m the one talks to strangers and visits the ER after a hapless home accident.
Lesley is a gifted writer and a poet, and always has a beaming smile and an infectious laugh. She and her husband are rearing and educating five beautiful children, all of whom have their own expressions of wonder and talent.
Here’s to you, Lesley. Happy Birthday! Now go fix yourself some Baker’s chocolate.
P.S. Great outfit!