I did not take the above picture. Mostly because I am in it, and I must have been about 3 at the time it was taken. It’s a picture of me and my cousin Jenny.
I had half a dozen cousins when I was growing up. Jenny was my favourite.
For at least 2 decades after this picture was taken, all I wanted was to grow up to be like Jenny. She was my secret hero. My mother knew, but I am not sure anyone else did.
Jenny was bright and bubbly, and so much fun. She seemed to always be happy, although I know that could not have been true. She was brave and bold and loving. And most importantly, she was the only one of my cousins to stand up for me against my tyrant brother. She will never know what that meant to me at the time… and still does.
How I wish I could go back and tell that little girl how everything is going to be OK. Life will be far more wonderful and amazing than you could ever imagine (and I had a pretty vivid imagination). You will go places you never dreamed of going. You will do things you couldn’t even imagine doing. And through it all… you will never lose that tiny sparkle in your eyes. The one you tried so hard to emulate from Jenny.
Even though Jenny must be about 60 years old now, and I haven’t seen her for decades… in my minds eye, she is still that vibrant girl in her 20’s that I so looked up to, and so wanted to be like. I stayed with her and her husband for a few days back when I was a teenager, and the lessons I learned from that experience still form part of me today. We never know the impact we have on another human being. Small acts of kindness that leave a lasting impression.
We all need a Jenny in our lives.
And if we cannot find one, we should strive to become one to others.
I have never told Jenny how much I admired her growing up. And that’s a shame. People should know what they mean to us. I can’t say that my life would have turned out much different if I had not had a cousin like Jenny… but I do know for sure that my troubled childhood was made that little bit more bearable for having her in my life. She gave me hope. Hope that we all grow up eventually and become the people we were meant to be. Hope that no amount of oppression can prevent us from still being able to smile… if we so choose to.
I got a text message from Jenny today. She sent me this picture.
She made my day.
And even after all this time….she can still make me smile.