June 19th, 2004


the d word, the w word

Mom just told me that my favorite cousin, Jimmy the cop, died last Sunday. (Every Irish family has to have at least one cop, it's like an unwritten rule, and he was ours.) I hadn't seen Jimmy since my dad's wake, I don't see my relatives, my mom tells me about them sometimes. Last I heard of Jimmy, he was busy getting my late Uncle Levant out of jail after my late Aunt Geraldine had him thrown in there during one of their legendary dramatic arguments about her fone bills and his other woman in Florida or whatever. Anyway I guess Jimmy had throat cancer that I didn't know about though mom swears she told me. We have at least three Cousin Jimmys in the family, I probably wishfully thought it was a different one.

I remember Jimmy's wedding when I was about 10, like the wedding from "Deer Hunter" only very slightly higher class. All our family weddings were like that. (Mine was not.) My mom, who doesn't believe in early marriages, had told him if he waited till he was 25 to get married she'd give him 25 dollars, and if he waited till he was 30 to get married she'd give him 30 dollars which was a lot of money then, 30-40 years ago. He dated his gf for about 10 years and didn't marry her till he was like 31 and mom always said he waited just to get the extra money. I remember my mom got the money in ones and folded all the bills up into leaf shapes and made a money tree. I think that was the wedding where me and my mom and him and my mom's friend sat around his mom's kitchen the afternoon before, with him making tuna salad in a tupperware and eating it in his undershirt and me thinking geez this dude is awfully relaxed for someone who's getting married the next day. I can't remember if that's the wedding where I wore an awful scratchy green polyester dress (I didn't know they made non-scratchy dresses then, I probably didn't care as I hated dressing up anyway) and got my very first crush ever on a 22-year-old friend of my cousins, ethnic guy named Kenny Eggleston who danced with me for a joke. I was turning into a romantic kid who crushed on everybody for a few years, guys from school, guys who worked at the gas station, guys who sold jewelry on the street, it drove my mother nuts. I probably would have crushed on Jimmy if he wasn't my cousin. He always treated me like a grownup and told funny jokes and made me and everybody else laugh. He was also the only one who used what I consider my real middle name, Maggie. I was supposed to be named for my grandmother whose actual name was Maggie but the Church made my folks change it to Margaret which I detest. (Just like the Church constantly tried to make my dad who was legally named "Bobbie" into a Robert and even gave my mother a hassle about what name went on the gravestone. Sheesh, can you think of anything more stupid to make a fuss about at a time like that? ) My mom's family had so many Marys that a second name was needed to differentiate during family gatherings and I would always get called Mary MARgaret which sounded stupid and like Mary HARTman and which I hated and which was just another reason for me to dread going to visit my mother's relatives. Only Jimmy would call me Mary Maggie and that was just fine. Nobody else ever called me that despite my wishing they would. I don't know why I am writing all this except that most of my cousins if they died I'd probably just go Eh but Jimmy is one of the few I'd actually feel sad over.
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