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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Cousin Janis
By Sherry A. Jackman


My Cousin Janis was only 18 months younger than me and an only child. Since her mom was my Dadís sister and her dad and mine worked in the Bremerton Naval shipyard, we only lived a few miles apart. We played together a lot when my parents visited her mom and dad or when we were all over at Grandmaís house, along with Grandmaís youngest daughter Aunt Linda who was only 4 Ĺ years older than me. We made play houses out in the woods on Grandma and Grandpaís acreage. The walls were made out of wood chips laid out end to end on the ground. After Grandma got an indoor toilet, we stored our dress-up clothes in the closed up outhouse.

Later, as a young teen I remember attending Janisí baptism and going for a weekend visit, I choked on Bubble Up when her dad told a joke and I tried to laugh and swallow at the same time. It was during that visit when she taught me how to dance the twist. I couldnít get the hang of the actual twisting motion your torso had to make to do this popular dance from the sixties, so Janis patiently stood in front of me and actually twisted my torso to show me how it went. The lessons were effective, as I can still do the twist 47 years later.

One tine when in our early teens, after Aunt Linda had married and left home, Janis and I spent the night with Grandma. My toenails were scratching Janis in the big double bed we had to share, so we got out of bed while I trimmed them. Grandma had made some lemon meringue pie, which we decided to snack on before going to sleep. I have a strong memory of its being very lemony sour and tangy, but canít quite recall if we ate all of what we took.

Janis got married and had kids; I married and moved to Alaska, and we didnít have much contact until in the 1980s, when I moved back to Tacoma, Washington. Since she was living in Poulsbo and had her beauticianís license, she would sometimes come to Tacoma to buy beauty supplies, but somehow never found time to call me or come by. She married her second husband, whom I didnít get very well acquainted with and we were mostly out of touch until in the early 90s when Uncle Jim, her dad, got sick and died. I attended Uncle Jimís funeral and was able to give Janis hugs and other comfort. She knew this comfort was genuine as I had been taken away from home at 15 Ĺ and not returned to my parents until I was 19. It was when I was in foster care my senior year that Janis and I attended the same high school and her mom even sewed me two really nice skirts to wear.

Janisí mom died in the early 80s and our Grandmaís middle daughter who was then widowed, married Uncle Jim and tried to be a step-mom to Janis. Washington is a community property state and since Uncle Jim didnít change his will after marrying his sister-in-law this caused some legal wrangling following his death. He owned several pieces of property besides the house and lot his widow lived in. Since Janis decided she hadnít gotten her fair share of Daddyís property, she sued her aunt/step-mom and maybe thatís why Janis and her second husband moved to Colorado after the legal issues were resolved. Another aunt and I who are both fond of Janis would love to hear from her, but the only comfort we have is that maybe she just needed to get away from all her parentsí relatives and find some peace of mind and happiness by not contacting us.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 05/30/08
Isn't great to have a close friend who is also your cousin? The beginning paragraph was a little confusing. I like the variety of antics you did together. The ending was rather sad.
Keep writing.
Marlene Austin06/01/08
Nice personal narrative, however there is an awfully lot of info given in a small space. I would have gotten to know the two main characters better if you had just concentrated on one incident, say the weekend visiting for the baptism, etc. I am sorry to hear that they are not in contact anymore. Hopefully God will heal the hurt from these family differences. :)