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

By Norma-Anne Hough


Coming from a very large family, I have many cousins. After knowing me for 35 years Dave is still meeting cousins he didnít know existed. Obviously I am a lot closer to some than others.
My mumís sisterís children are like my siblings. I spent many happy holidays with them, even living with my aunt for a year when my own life was falling apart.

Derek, the eldest and I are soul mates. We have always got on very well. He has overcome many obstacles to make him the special person he is today. My uncle had many problems. For many years he was addicted to betting on the horses. Some weekends it paid handsomely, but as we all know he lost more than he won. My aunt had to work most of her life to supplement their income, yet she loved with a passion and never would hear negative comments about him.

Derek left home at an early age. He did his military training which in those days in South Africa was compulsory. Unfortunately it was not a happy time for him, as being English in a mostly Afrikaans environment cause sadistic sergeant-majors to abuse him. One great thing though, he refused to let his spirit be broken.

He was a brilliant artist and decided to become an architect, studying at night while he worked during the day. Karen came into his life and he thought he had it made. She is a very talented hairdresser and owned her own salon. Two beautiful children later, disaster struck. Derek was retrenched and became a house husband, caring for the girls and running the home. Karen, unable to take the stress turned to alcohol.

She began to abuse the children and Derek. He would not allow her near them when he could see how bad she was. Her mother was desperate to save her daughter, the marriage and grandchildren, so she suggested they all move to Scotland so she could help out. Karen had lost the salon and they were in deep financial need. Derek decided it would be best to go over to Edinburgh with them and try to save his family.

In Edinburgh the first year turned out well. Karen seemed to be happy being back in Scotland and even stopped drinking. Derek found a part-time job and Karen worked in a salon. Two more children arrived in quick succession and once again Karen turned to the demon of alcohol.

Derek took over the family. The oldest children wanting nothing to do with Karen moved in with their maternal grandmother. Derek stayed to look after the younger two. On visits to them in Edinburgh my heart broke. Derek always kept up a wonderful front. He has the most amazing sense of humour and brings lots of laughter into situations.

Over the years Karen has been hospitalized many times, been in and out of rehab and yet still continues to carry on. She has long periods of sobriety, and then any little thing will set her off again.
Derek has remained married to her and runs the household. He had sacrificed his career to look after Karen.

His children have all achieved at school and university. The second eldest daughter has two little boys. She pays Derek to look after them for her as she is in the medical field. Karen is only allowed to be with the grandchildren when Derek is there. His children adore him.

Derek and I know each otherís strengths and weaknesses. We are in constant touch by telephone or email encouraging one another always. He seems to always know when I need to hear from him most, as it is then that I will get an email or telephone call. I have tried to help Karen over the years. She refuses any help, in fact last time we were in Edinburgh she brought out the Korean and told me that was her bible!

Derek is a special person in my life. He has brought laughter into dark days, always ready to encourage and lift up. As I write he is flying to be with Cheryl, who was so badly burnt a few weeks ago.
They also have a deep bond between them.

My prayer for Derek is that one day all the sacrifices he made will be returned to him over and above what he has given. Thanks Derek for your love and the laughter you have brought into my life.

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This article has been read 817 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 05/31/08
IT's great to have special cousin. There's a lot of information in this story. It may be better to focus on one incident that showed Derek's character the most.
Well done. Keep writing.
Joshua Janoski06/01/08
Your cousin sounds like a strong man being able to endure so much. I'm glad that you are close to him and that you shared your story with all of us. It was an enjoyable read. :)
Marlene Austin06/02/08
Your gratitude and devotion are strongly expressed in this personal narrative. Nice job. :)