I come from a large family that I spoke of in my second post. I’ll share again a photo of most of my cousins in front of my grandparents’ house some Sunday afternoon.
I did not have a lot in common with my cousins. None were exactly my age; none lived in the same town as I did. They’d lived there their entire lives; we moved close by after my parents’ divorce. Most of them did go to school together, making me even more of an outsider. So with no close relationships, we drifted apart and I only knew what was going on in their lives through my mother. As she grew older, I heard less until I couldn’t have told you anything about any of them.
The first time one came back into my life was after my mother had been moved to a nursing home. She’d been there for over a year and was very unhappy. It was a beautiful facility that was horribly run, but that’s another post. We were looking for a new place for her and this cousin contacted me. She and her siblings have a band, and they perform for charities and had performed at many nursing homes in the area. She gave us the name of one she was impressed by. We went to look at it and my mother liked it. She’s been there now for 3 years and it was a good pick. The facility is not shiny and new, but the staff has no turnover, is truly caring and concerned and she feels at home.
Because my mother had “dainties” that she didn’t want ruined through the nursing home’s commercial laundry, my cousin who lived nearby, offered to do my mother’s laundry for her. It was at this point when I named her “the good cousin”. She was just so giving. When I thanked her, she’d say, “Now you know you’d do the same for my mother.” Would I? I’d like to think so. But I live four hours from my mother and my aunt. I wouldn’t be tested.
My cousin and I began to communicate fairly often about my mom. I get there every month but she was my “eyes on the ground” about how Mom fared in-between. Her sister joined in the conversation and I got to know her, too. She was also kind. They became “the good cousins”. I told them and they laughed.
Then I discovered this: their baby brother, who had beaten cancer twice was in the hospital needing a heart transplant. The cancer treatments had done damage to his heart. He went through some tough patches and was to go through more long periods of hospitalization. He is self-insured, being a small business owner. The medical bills were astronomical.
I asked my mother if there was any fund to which we could contribute to help with the medical bills he was accumulating. I don’t know if my question got them thinking or if it was already in the works, but a fund was started at a local bank. To get it started, a local restaurant offered its premises to hold a fund-raiser. They had the restaurant for 7 hours, from 2pm – 9pm. Since the “good cousins” and their brothers have a bluegrass band, they know a lot of musicians and a lot of big-hearted musicians offered to perform. My husband and I attended and were deeply moved by how many people were there to perform, to contribute and to support. Victor was still hospitalized, but was there via Skype.
Since then, their small town community has opened its heart to do anything they could do to help out this family. There have been quite a few fundraisers since the first. Most have had live music but not all and they’ve built up quite a large fund to help Victor pay his medical bills. I suppose it might be a drop in the bucket by the time he has his heart transplant but the fund has given caring people a way to help and has given Victor a way to recognize how much support and love he has to get him through. I’ve gotten to know “the good cousins’” brothers as adults, and they’re men of faith and family. I am honored that they are family. I’ve developed an appreciation for the depth and width of what the word “family” can contain.
By the way, at the latest fundraiser, there was a wonderful R&B/Gospel singer who performed an amazing set. She also invited a sixteen year old rocker to join her in the song “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. If you want a taste of it, click below. And remember Victor in your prayers that he gets his new heart. Thanks.
To watch on youtube, click here: Jane Powell and Logan Stegall 02/17/2013