My Cousin J.

So she just sent me an article she wrote about her worms.  J. is my baby cousin who lives in West Texas, near Big Bend National Park, in a tiny house in the desert, on a gigantic ranch called Terlingua.

My cousin J. grew up as a nice Jewish-American girl in NJ.  But there were certain differences between her life and mine … there were horses, sailboats, a private home, a brother and a father, none of which I had. Let me be clear: her family was not wealthy: they didn’t own these things.  Except the private home, and of course the brother and father.

She rode horses in shows.  No one in the rest of our family did that. But it’s too long a story — where she lived, what she did for a living.  She always had played guitar and sang, just as did I, but she began to write songs, which I did not.  And nowadays,  she and her very nice partner travel back and forth between a 1-room West Texas stucco house and a trailer they own in Washington State.

What she does mostly now is playing guitar with a western-type quartet that performs at the Ranch, writing songs for it, and also playing oboe in an orchestra in Portland, I think it is.

When her big brother had children, J. was a fabulous, involved aunt, the kind who gets on a plane and goes to the concerts, birthday parties, bar mitzvah’s —  or just visits. Now  there are 2 great-nephews (maybe 3 by now) and she does the same thing with them, though mostly with the one who’s not living in Spain.

Somewhere in all this she lived through breast cancer, 3 marriages, the suicide of her 2nd beloved husband (bi-polar-related), and wrote a book called What Goes Up… .

She’s only been able to do this all because I, her older cousin, have permitted it.  I could have squashed her like a bug to keep my place on the talent throne, yeah but knowing her, she would have simply joined the ends of what was left and continued doing her thing, like the worms she takes such good care of!

I did not know that worms actually create soil with their “manure,” did you?



9 thoughts on “My Cousin J.

  1. Pleased to read you today, Ellen. Best to you and your continued posts here as you, “head dangerously close to age 80.” I love that. We do owe it to ourselves to stay engaged and “get the word out” about living on the golden side of life.


  2. Good to hear from you! Having read your posts today, I’ve become a follower. I so appreciate the kind of humor that includes laughing at ourselves (Minimal!), and also your willingness to share. Also, I appreciate just plain good writing!


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