A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nicknames, Babies, Cousins

A lot of my cousins had cool nicknames. Joe is Sonny, Mary is Butch, Ann is Babe, Pat is Patty Boy. I even had an aunt named Phyllis who was known as Aunt Fanny. I always felt very deprived because I didn't have a nickname - but I got over it.

Then there is my cousin Marie- better known as Cookie. Cookie is a couple of years older than I am and, when we first moved to Tucson, she was my wiser, older cousin. I was only 10 nd she was, like, 12 or 13! Almost a teenager - how cool was that?!? Cookie spent a lot of time with her grandmother, my great-grandmother, who most of us called Little Grandma. And at barely 4' 9" the name definitely fit. I've written about her before, she's the reason we all wound up in Tucson. She only lived a couple of blocks from my grandmother and from the first house we rented in Tucson, and my school was about a block from her house. So I could visit often and Cookie and I spent time together.

Cookie is the one on the left. An unknown (at least to me) man next to her, then "Butch", her husband Tony, my Aunt Fanny in the back, and my dad on his hands and knees in front of the group. Not sure if he fell down or was looking for a missing cigarette.

Cookie holds a very special place in my life - she's the person who told me how babies are made. Yup, right there on the back porch of either my grandmother's or Little Grandma's house. We were sitting on the steps and she asked me if I wanted to know a secret. Of course I did! Then she proceeded to tell me how women got pregnant. I was totally grossed out. I mean, MY parents didn't do anything like that! The horror of it all. I was stunned for several days, and then simply told myself it couldn't possibly be true. People would never do something like that.

Tangent alert: My mom and dad were not the type of parents who could talk about the facts of life with us kids. I'm sure they thought they should, but they had no idea how. Before I heard the terrifying story from Cookie, we had the movie in 5th grade that all little girls had to watch about "our bodies growing up." And, of course, we were NOT to talk with any of the little boys about what we had seen. No, sir - it was a girl secret. After watching the movie, I knew for a fact that a sperm had to find an egg to fertilize it and make a baby. Also, from my Mom, I knew for a fact that a woman had to get married before she could have a baby. So, riding in the car one day, I said to my parents, "You know what I don't get? I know the sperm fertilizes the egg to make a baby. And I know a woman has to be married to have a baby. But what I don't get is how the sperm knows the woman is married and it's okay to fertilize the egg!" The answer I got was something along the lines of "this isn't the right time or place to discuss it." Period. End of discussion. So Cookie did manage to clear up that little quandry.

Anyhoo, the reason I bring all of this up is that Cookie and I recently re-connected due to the wonders of the Internet. And also because my aunt in Tucson gave her my phone number. I find as I get older it's more and more important for me to connect with family and people from my past. So it's been so wonderful to be communicating with Cookie again. There is something so special about another person who knows your history and who fondly remembers all those family members who are no longer here, but who left us with wonderful memories.


So, here's to Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone, and Al Gore (!!) for the Internet - for giving us a way to get in touch, and keep in touch, with people who are important to us.

And here's a big HI!! to Cookie and thank you for making that phone call.

9 comments:

Daisy said...

Lucky you - very cool... I have lost contact with most of my cousins because - well mostly because they have become the idot turd adults we always swore we wouldn't become.

But good for you - definitely!

Desert Diva said...

What a wonderful family story. When you're famous I won't have to buy the book since I read most of it on your blog! ;-)

Jenni said...

So, how's Cookie doing these days?

And which cousin was Carm, if not Carmella? *sigh* It's all so confusing....

Chatterness said...

big ole Italian family.....doesn't get better!! Love it! :-)

Maryann said...

Wonderful old family photos! How ARE babies made?? haha ;)

namaste said...

oh sandi! what a great post! i love you and your family connections!! MWAAHHH!!

Julia said...

I loved reading this post. It says so well how important it becomes to stay connected to family. Some good things in that department have come of my sister's passing. One of my brothers emailed my other brother and me today with pdf's of old newspaper articles from the twenties and thirties about my aunts' college days and more. I felt I could reach out and touch them - just for a moment. Thanks, Al!

Luz said...

Love the photos! Priceless and such treasures. I love nicknames too. I had an uncle who we just called "uncle" and his daughter is known to the family as "sister".

Museman said...

Good story and love the pics. Thanks for posting a comment on my blog too. I knew a Cookie once.