Your Stories

Too late. Too late for stories now.
 



My cousin died last Thursday at noon. My favourite cousin. The one I looked up to as a kid. She was fun-loving and full of energy and after she graduated from nursing school she moved to Santa Monica to work for a while before coming back home to get married.

“I have a cousin in California,” I would proudly tell my grade three classmates.

She told me a few months ago, "I feel dizzy and keep losing my balance when I play with my granddaughters. You know how much I love to dance with them!"

She went to the hospital for some tests. Brain tumour, they said. Too late. Nothing we can do.

My dearest cousin was dead in less than five months.

I went to visit her. I wanted her to help me remember stories from my childhood. I took a favourite photo. Black and white. 1954. I’m four. She’s nineteen. All of us are there on the dock at her grandparent’s cottage. My cousin’s in the water in her white bathing cap with her sister. I’m there with my brother, my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandparents who came from Europe to visit us that summer. They came just once. That wonderful summer. Opa in his white linen jacket, and full beard, always tickling me when we hugged. Oma, her thin white hair pulled back tightly in a bun, gold rimmed glasses and a silk dress, very formal.

I point to my grandparents. “Do you remember anything about them? Tell me, please. Any stories. I would love to know more about that summer.”

My cousin looks at the photo and smiles her lovely full happy smile. “Didn’t they live next door? They were so nice. Yes. I remember them. They lived right next door to us, didn’t they?”

I was too late. Too late for stories. Her stories intertwined with my memories of that long ago cottage day. We talked for a while. I kept to easy topics. The here and now. Her two sons going out fishing. Her granddaughters playing nearby.

But she couldn’t tell me any stories anymore. I was too late.

Don’t let my regret be yours. Ask your loved ones now. “Tell me your stories.” Record them. Write them down. If not for yourself, then for your kids. Do it now.

By: Claudia