I do. They're awesome, and I love them!
I was lucky enough to start today with a conversation with my cousin Rachel. (Well, technically, I was "lucky" enough to start my day with a bowl of Shredded Wheat, and I was at the bank by 7:00. But at about 8:00, I got a text from Rachel - I love it when she texts me, because then I know she's by her phone, and will pick up when I call - so I walked outside, called my cousin, and sat right down on the wet grass and talked/laughed/cried with her for a good 40 minutes.)
It was a glorious way to start the day. ... Wet bum and all!
One of the reasons I love to talk to Rachel is that she talks like my mom. (I know, I know. That means she talks like HER mom. Our moms talk the same way - use the same words, have the same inflections. They must be sisters!) This morning, she was telling me a story and said "What's that about?", and sounded EXACTLY like Big Ude. It was awesome!
It's really been brought home to me, in the last month, how incredible the women in my life - the women in my family - truly are. Watching Mark and Rachel go through diagnosis/surgery has been heart-wrenching. But it has also been awesome. It has been awesome to see their strength. It has been awesome to see Rachel's friends and family gather around her. It has been awesome to see my aunts drop everything in their lives, so they can be in Provo.
I love that I found out that Mark was in the hospital because my cousin Julie called me - because our aunt Deb had facebooked her to let her know she was coming back to Utah, and why. It makes my heart happy that Cousin Katie texted me from the hospital when Mark came out of surgery, that Becca texted me from the airport in DC when she was headed to Utah and then posted pics that gave us the first visual of what was going on in Utah, that now that Katie is in the house with the family, she sent a picture of Mark and the girls Sunday night. I'm so grateful for the relationship I've had with Rachel, that it's not weird to her that sometimes I have to pick up the phone and call her when I read her texts. (Or, if it is weird to her, that she picks up my calls anyway.) I feel so lucky that I don't only know these incredibly strong and amazing people - I am related to them!
It is a thing of beauty that our aunt Cindy dropped everything in her life in Cedar and went to Provo when she knew Mark and Rachel (and their kids) needed her. That Debbie was right there at the hospital with Rachel and/or Mark - around the clock - makes perfect sense. Her sister - my own sweet mom - has never left my side when I'm in the hospital. I mean, she's slept on the floor, so I wouldn't be alone in the night.
Service and Love. Those two words encapsulate everything about my mom and her sweet sisters. (And their brothers, too. I don't want to leave John and Keith out of the love-fest!)
I love them. I'm so grateful they're my family.
I'm so grateful for the generations that came before (it has become very clear that the reason my mom and aunts are so darn servicable and kind must be because they learned it from their own sweet mother). I am grateful for my association with my aunts and uncles - all of them. I am grateful for my cousins, for the incredible people that they are - for the relationships I have with them (both familial and friendship).
This morning, I got to spend some time with Rachel. And it was awesome.
On Saturday, I sent a package to my cousin Amy because their baby shower is this weekend. (I might not be able to be at the shower, but that doesn't mean I can't dress that baby girl in bright Laurie-facsimile, ruffled and/or striped outfits!)
Last week, I was trolling through my email, looking for some information and ran across an email from Bethy that made me cry. ... Beth was the first person to send me money last year. As soon as she had an inkling that I needed financial help, she called and asked me for my routing and account number, so she could wire funds - and she gave explicit instruction that I use some of the money she sent to buy something I wanted/eat something yummy while I still could.
Also last week, my cousin Katie posted the following on my FB:
I laughed out loud (and when I say loud, I mean... LOUD) when I read that. I love her!
After Julie was here in March, she sent me the following bullet list of why she likes to come to AZ (she knows I love lists - hopefully, she also knows that I love HER, and she won't mind that I copy/pasted this to ye olde blog):
- I can relax and do nothing.
- We can talk for hours.
- I will learn something new. About myself, others, and the world.
- You tell things like they are.
- You support, build up, validate, and love.
- You have awesome friends.
- It's warm and beautiful.
- For the view of the turquoise pool and pink sky.
- I don't hear "Mooooooooom!" once.
- I get good book recommendations.
- Our conversations run the gamut from spiritual to naughty.
- There's always good food involved.
- Science experiments.
- I can hang out in a towel.
- I feel closer to my cousins through you. I could easily cook with Becca, dine with Brea, watch movies with Amy, etc.
- I love you!
(Our science experiment last time was a blind Oreo taste-test. ... We Ball kids heart science. Big time.)
I love how so many of my cousins are my friends, that they're good friends - people who are involved, if not daily, in the weekly and monthly timeline of my life.
I could tell so many stories, share so many experiences, where these people that I love - these people who are my mother's siblings' children - have blessed my life.
Man alive, I looooove these people! I love them so much that I'm going to blast the www with just a few memories/images of these people I love so freaking much.
This was one of my favorite days. I was visiting Julie. Beth happened to be in the states. (She lives in Jolly Old England.) We went to WalMart for pedicures (because we're super fancy like that) and ran into two aunts and four cousins. (Truth be told, they heard my laugh. That's right. Over the din of the Utah County WalMart, they heard my laugh. And they found me. ... As in, the laugh led them to me. How awesome is that?!)
L to R: Becca, Rachel (with Shelly), Katie, Bethy (Baby Nate?), Jule, me, Robby
Here's another fun day. This is Julie, Nikki and me - wedding dress shopping. (Yes, one of us was recently engaged and planning a wedding. No, it sure wasn't me!)
Grammy and Grandad's house. 1988. Watching Singing in the Rain. :-)
I actually remember this day. Which isn't that weird, considering I was 14. I doubt anyone else will remember it, though. (Keep reading. Upon later conversation with Becca, she thinks she might remember this day, too.)
(That would be me and Nikki. How cute is she? Loooove the piggies!)
This is in my grandparents' house. Uncle John was magical. (He still is, actually.) This is the penny trick. Christy is in the back. Julie is the kid looking up at her dad. I am in yellow, on the far right.
How sweet is this?
That's Greg and me. April 1976.
Below, L to R: Doug, Greg, Julie, Me. Summer, 2011.
This weekend was the first time I'd seen Greg in... I don't know that either of us could actually remember how long.
The four of us were in the same ward for YEARS when we were in our 20's. (G&D were roommates. So were Julie and I.) Grammy and Grandad were still in Provo, and we'd get phone calls inviting us up to the house to help Grammy "clean out the fridge" (eat leftovers) and then Grandad would cut us a square of ice cream and we'd eat it either at the kitchen table or on the flower couch. (Because we were grownups and could be trusted with such things.)
We would borrow VHS tapes of old movies and chain-watch them together. (The first time I ever saw The King and I was at Greg's apartment. It was Grammy's tape. Greg had borrowed it, and called to ask if we wanted to come over and watch it with him. That was the first year I lived in Provo. We made so many memories that year. ... Oh, and the next four or five, too.)
The boys camped out (yes, camped - overnight) at the old University theater to get tickets for the re-release of Star Wars. The deal was the the boys would sleep over to get the tickets, and then Julie and I would camp out at the theater, to make sure we had good seats when the movies started. I'm pretty sure we saw the midnight showing of all three Star Wars movies - on opening day/night. (And we had good seats every time.) I worked across the street from the theater, so I'd walk over as soon as I got off work and set up camp. Julie would come and bring dinner. We'd play games and talk and laugh - and eat - for hours. The boys were always firm that WE had to camp out to get seats - but they'd always show up by 8:00 and spend the next several hours sitting, talking, eating, and/or playing Phase 10 with us. Sometimes their roommates would come with, sometimes it was just us. One night, we ate three quarts of ice cream, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk, passing the carton of Baskin Robbins from cousin to cousin. ... I'm pretty sure Julie and Doug both ate 4 Big Macs the night we saw Empire Strikes back.
We had some good times. I mean... a lot of them!
Again, summer of 2011. This is (duh) me, Lindsay and Julie.
Do you love how short I am next to my cousins? I do! (And I was wearing 2 inch heels in this pic!)
Here's a fun one of ... well ... a lot of us, but mostly Becca and me:
I texted a copy of this to Becca, and this is what she sent me back,
"Oh my gosh!! I love it! And I LOVE your side ponytail!!! One of my most vivid memories of you was probably from around that same time period. I was sitting on your lap at Grammy's on the green spinny chairs and you were laughing so hard that you threw me off your lap and ran to the bathroom so that you didn't pee your pants!"
That's right, kids. I've been peeing my pants for over 20 years. I'm awesome like that.
Our grandparents had a two story house, with a basement full of extra rooms. A huge family room, a kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms were downstairs... Well enough room for visiting families to co-habitate for a week or two in the summers.
The "big" bedroom downstairs had a king-sized bed in it. Next door, there was a room with two twin beds. One summer, the twins and I wanted to stay together - but no one wanted to sleep on the floor. So, we found a way to make it work. For a week. (I vividly remember listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Over and over again. We were three teenage girls who could not believe that Patrick Swazye could sing AND dance!)
In the summer of '89, Debbie and Cindy came to Taylor with their kids. (How can I tell what year this was taken? The super sweet Coppertone T-shirt is a dead giveaway. This was my PE shirt my freshman year. Super awesome style sense I had, no?)
Here I am with two of my favorite girls:
And here's a whole bunch of us on the grass:
Ahhhh... Here's another fun one. Disneyland, September 2007.
I had gone with several girlfriends for a long weekend. We were standing in line to get some hamburgers, when I heard an incredulous "Cousin Laurie?!" behind me.
Now, I wasn't surprised to hear my name in Disneyland... I have a family of cousins who live in the area, and stranger things have certainly happened. (See above for story of running into my Disneyland cousins in the Orem WalMart.) What surprised me was that the person calling my name was Doug, who lives in Utah. He and Dana had taken the kids to CA. Neither of us had any idea the other was in the park. The CB Gals and I had happened to walk into the restaurant at the same time Doug and Dana were getting ready to leave. (It's true, what they say: Disneyland really IS the happiest place on earth!)
Back to G&G's...
(Elbow Ball, btw, is now an absolute impossibility for my sad body. A huge part of my physical therapy after my last surgery was lying on my stomach - in an elbow-ball-esque position - to stretch my stomach muscles back out. It's been almost a year since surgery. I can now lie on my stomach, propped up on my elbows - but there's NO WAY that I could maneuver my body to catch/kick/headbutt a ball around. Awh, well. At least I have the memory of Elbow Ball to keep me warm at night. This, along with freeze tag and croquet, were the staples in summertime fun at Grammy's.)
I love these kids.
I love that I have pictures with my cousins that are over 30 years old. I love that I also have pictures with my cousins that are no more than 3 months old.
I'm so grateful that so many of my earliest, childhood, friends have seen me into adulthood. I am a blessed, blessed woman!
These people make me happy that Families ARE Forever! ... I mean, super duper happy.
These people make me happy that Families ARE Forever! ... I mean, super duper happy.