Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Cousin Wayne

Today (July 22) is my cousin Wayne’s 49th birthday. Or would be had he not died last August.
He was exactly four months older than me and we were close when we were kids.
Wayne stayed with us for two weeks in August 1969. He’d just turned 11, I was still 10, and we caught frogs and played with garter snakes, snuck cigarettes in the old house on the farm, and dug tunnels in a huge pile of sand behind the new house we’d moved into a few months earlier.
The frogs were used in competitive sports. We called it the “Froggie Woggie Olympics” and events included determining how long the poor amphibians could stay submerged before they would float to the surface belly up.
When one did we turned it over and rubbed its back for a moment to revive it. I’m pleased to report we never lost an athlete.
Looking back it was probably cruel, but back in the golden innocence of youth it was fun.

Wayne was smart. He got high marks in school, was a thinker, and was very level–headed. We disagreed only once. We were talking about starving African children and I said they were undernourished. He insisted the right word was malnourished. Maybe we were both right.

Wayne’s family moved a lot and we didn’t see one another much after that year.
He got into drugs as a teen and became an alcoholic. He went to AA and celebrated two weeks of sobriety by going out and getting so drunk that we was in a coma for three days.

Somewhere in his mid-forties he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. It was a blessing. He took his meds. He straightened out his life. He took a course in hotel management and got a good job as a night manager.

Shortly afterward he was diagnosed with bone cancer. He didn’t last too long and I can’t help but think that’s a blessing too. Survival meant pain.

Some would look at his life and pronounced it wasted. I don’t agree.
We have our lessons to learn during Earth life and we choose how to learn them.
We decide in pre-birth the big things in life, who we’ll be with and what we’ll do. He chose the experiences of his life for his reasons. Maybe it was for him to learn; maybe it was a lesson for someone else. He knows that answer, not me.

Wayne came to me during one of my altered state sessions at the hypnosis retreat in May. He said “I made a way for you.”

I don’t know what that means.

It was good to see him again. He hasn’t visited me in my dreams like most of my other dead relatives.

I could see him clearly. Tall, strong, dressed in a buckskin jacket and cowboy hat. There was door behind him, like a office door, and he put one hand on the doorknob, tipped his hat to me and said, “You take care now.” He opened the door and I know he went to a life in the American Old West.

I believe he did what he needed in this life and learned what he came to learn in the fashion that suited his needs the best.

Whatever else he did, or didn’t do, Wayne and I will always be together in the golden moment of youth, playing with frogs.

10 comments:

Dawn said...

It's always hard to tell how happy or content someone is with their own life. Sometimes - lives that look wasted to us don't feel that way to the person concerned. And of course, if we turn that over and tickle it's tummy (!!!!!!) a life of seeming high achievment might not feel like that.

(An aside for everyone except Leah - because she will know what the exclamation marks were about - I stole her saying!)

bunnygirl said...

Death is definitely harder on those of us who remain than on those who move on, no matter what one's beliefs.

I'm sad for your loss of him as an earthly friend. It's a shame he wasn't around longer, having finally reached a point of stability. I hope he has found what he was searching for and that his connection to you, while altered, remains strong.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes, Dawn. High achievement may only look good on the outside.
Thanks for stealing and using my expression. Made me smile.

Thanks, Bunnygirl. I'm sure the connection is still there.

Rebecca said...

Thank you - I miss him too.

Michael said...

I wouldn't consider it wasted. Even if the most he ever accomplished was how he affected you in your life, that's a lot. I lost two very good friends who both died at young ages (28 and 33) from cancer. I knew one for 13 years and the other for two. Even those two very short years were a blessing, and a gift.

Travis Erwin said...

I recenly lost a cousin of mine to which I was close to. He was only 29 so it was a bit hard, but then again when you lose a fmaily member I guess it's always hard.

Leah J. Utas said...

Hello Michael, that's a good way to look at the lives that touch us. Blessings and gifts.

Sorry to hear about your cousin, Travis. It is difficult.

You're welcome, Rebecca. It's the first time I've written through tears.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I'm glad you've found a way to see so many blessings where others might just focus on the negative.

And I agree--I don't think anyone can ever call another life a "waste."

It was very nice of you to remember your cousin in this touching way, and introduce many other to him who never got the chance to know him.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you, Crabby.

Anonymous said...

Leah, you did a great job of reminding all of us what's important in life - cousins, frogs, & sneakin' around with same. I remember him as a pesky kid always bugging his older sister and me when we were doing our own cousinly sneakin' around, smoking cigarettes and fighting over who was cuter - Bobby Sherman (her) or David Cassidy (me)! For all you regular readers of Leah's blog, you should know that she has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 24 first cousins on her dad's side alone, so she has lots of fodder! And lots of us watching her blog to see if we pop up.
Wayne was a great cousin and those of us who knew him before his troubles beset him, and watched his suffering, then his triumph, will always be grateful that he was in our lives.