As usual, the names have been changed to disguise the guilty, because, let’s face it, I don’t want any lawsuits!
In 1999 I went to Niagara Falls to visit my cousin Norm. While I was there, his half brother Jerry called. I got on the phone with Jerry and we hit it off immediately. We were both computer programmers, we both liked movies, and we were both divorced.
We exchanged phone numbers and talked often on the phone. Sometimes we would watch the same movie at the same time. We would talk on the phone, decide on the movie, put the same movies into our VCRs at the same time, hang up the phone, and watch them together from across the country. We would then talk again after the movie. It took away some of the loneliness we were both feeling in our lives.
I had not remembered actually meeting Jerry in person when we were kids. He was quite a few years old than I was. My mother and his mother are sisters, but his mother is 12 years older than my mother.
Jerry had spent the first 6 years of his life living at our Grandparents’ house with his mother. His father had beat up his mother when she was pregnant with Jerry. His father was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been put away in a mental institution. His mother had moved back home with her parents, our grandparents. His mother received an annulment, but it was all very scandalous in the 1950’s.
Years later, Jerry’s mother married a man with a mean streak. But he didn’t hit her; he hit Jerry.
Meanwhile, I was growing up in a physically and verbally abusive home also. I hardly ever saw my cousins because my father and his mother didn’t get along. I was robbed of growing up with my cousins. Although they only lived a few miles away, we were in different school districts.
Jerry was physically, emotionally and verbally abused by his step-father until he was able to get away at the age of 18. Jerry took a bus westward. He wasn’t sure where he was going; but he knew he was never going back. Some nights he slept in bus stations. He went from job to job, supporting himself as best he could. Anything was better than going back. Eventually, he put himself through college and became a computer programmer. He got married. And divorced. And married again. And divorced again.
One movie that we watched together a lot was “Fargo.” It is a crazy movie based on a true story of a man who had his wife kidnapped so he could collect ransom from his rich father-in-law. But things go terribly wrong.
One of the characters in the movie is named Marge Gunderson. She is a police woman. So when I went out to Seattle to visit my cousin, he was standing in the airport with a sign that read, “Marge Gunderson.” Of course I recognized him right away.
I flew out to Seattle several times after that to visit my cousin. We did some sight-seeing around the Seattle area.
I also recognized that as you get older, your family and friends are the most important thing,
especially when someone in your family is your friend.
UPDATE: My cousin “Jerry” passed away recently. That’s why I grabbed this writing out of the archives and brought it to the light of day.
I will miss him, but I try to remember with a smile some of the great times we had.