On Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. AARP also offers resources and news for military veterans and families.

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Re: MEMOIR. MY FRIEND'S COUSIN

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Thank you PattyDiane. I will never forget Lupita.
I enjoyed reading your story about "The Twins! Very remarkable ladies.
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Re: MEMOIR. MY FRIEND'S COUSIN

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Sara, I'm so glad you posted about your friend's cousin.  I think "special" people are called that because of the gift they give us if we are able to take it.

 

When I was first out of college, living in my own apartment, my roommate was a social worker and her best friend was a Special Education Teacher at a school in Atlanta.  He was also a physical therapist and worked with the kids with PE.  I remember one day he came by our apartment with a bottle of champagne.  We asked about the celebration and he told us "Theresa threw the ball today and tomorrow we can work on catching it".  He had been working with the little girl for several months at the time and I think the accomplishment meant more to him than it did to her.

 

I didn't really understand that at the time, but then I met "The Twins".  I had begun figure skating lessons with a new teacher at a new rink.  She was teaching me a move in which the direction is changed from forward to backward.  It's not really difficult after the timing is worked out, but before then it's a bit trickly.  I did not get the timing worked out during the 30-minute lesson and was totally frustrated by the time I stomped into the warm-up room and lit a cigarette. 

 

Very soon a woman came up beside me and introduced herself.  I had seen her on the ice earlier along with another woman and was glad to see more adult beginners there since there were so many fearless children skating circles around everyone.  She said she noticed me having a lesson and asked if that was a "mohawk" I was learning.  I made a sarcastic comment that I hadn't learned it yet and she told me not to worry because it was very difficult, that she and her sister had been working on it for a long time.

 

I asked how long and she answered "eleven years".  With a wish of good luck she went back onto the ice and joined the other woman that I now knew was her twin sister.

 

Another woman came into the warm-up room and told me the story of "The Twins".  They were born conjoined at the top of their skulls.  It was decided to attempt to separate them.  This was in the late '30's or very early '40's. Their father worked for the telephone company and they were adopted as a Soutern Bell Project.  Amazingly both twins survived and were written up in numerous medical journals through the years.

 

Both suffered significant brain damage but they were encouraged to function as normally as possible.  By the time I knew them they were in their mid-40's.  They lived alone in a garage apartment next door to their mother.  They both were employed as file clerks in different companies.  They both drove a car, sang in the church choir, lectured with Weight Watchers, figure skated and gave free lessons to every child who stepped into the rink.  They made it a point to remember everyone's name which would be called out as you stepped through the door if they were there.  They stood by while everyone would practice for a competition or a show and applaud while reminding us to "show those pearly whites".

 

I remember the day that one of the twins mastered the 1-foot spin and we had the opportunity to stand there and applaud that accomplishment.  There was no shortage of "pearly whites" that day.  All the regulars at the rink and the members of the figure skating club were very protective of the twins and if we heard anyone laugh at their uncoordinated attempts they only made that mistake once because someone would call them out on it.

 

Our rink closed up and I didn't see them for a while.  Then one day I decided to go to a new place and as soon as I walked through the door I heard my name called and was greeted like a long lost friend.  They asked what I had been doing and said they had not been able to skate much either.  Their mother had become ill and they had moved back in with her to take care of her.  It was difficult for them to get away at the same time.  Also the new rink was near the free-way and they didn't like to go that fast.  On this day a neighbor had volunteered to stay with their mother so they could have some time off.

 

That's been over 30 years ago as I moved away soon after that, but there have been so many times I've thought about the lessons I learned from them and I'm so grateful for the experience.

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Re: MEMOIR. MY FRIEND'S COUSIN

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Thank you gk5007.
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Re: MEMOIR. MY FRIEND'S COUSIN

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MEMOIR. MY FRIEND'S COUSIN

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                                    MY FRIEND’S COUSIN

 

My girlfriend Catalina invited me to go to visit her family in a small town close to Guadalajara, in Mexico. I was delighted with the invitation so we went to spend a few days with her family.  Her aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins were very happy to see her and they welcomed me with open arms.

 

 After we relaxed for a little bit because it was a several hours trip by bus, we had dinner which was delicious, all kind of Mexican dishes with nice fresh homemade tortillas. While we were eating I noticed a little girl (that’s what I thought she was) staring at me with such intensity that made me smile at her, she smiled back shyly. She was sitting far away so I really did not pay attention to her physical appearance. After we finished eating, I excused myself and went to talk to the little girl, when I got close I realized that she was not a child, she looked older, she had beautiful eyes but her head was bigger in proportion to the rest of her body. I didn’t want to stare at her so I asked her what her name was, she did not answer. “What is your name?” I said again. Lupita is her name; answered a voice behind me. I looked back and I assumed it was her mother who was talking to me. She can’t talk, the mother said but she understands when we talk to her.

 

 I kept talking to Lupita. “I love your name Lupita, that is a pretty name” I said, and she smiled again. Her mother told me that Lupita was 27 years old. When she was five years old she had the measles and nearly died, as a result she had brain damage and got a rare disease that stunt her growth. Her mother said “I can see Lupita is happy because you are paying attention to her, in general everybody ignores her and some people are afraid of her”

 

Obviously it made me very sad to hear that. The rest of the evening was very enjoyable, we had a little party and some of Catalina’s cousins played guitar and sang beautifully, during this time Lupita followed me wherever I went, so I knew I had found a friend.

 

Before going to bed I brushed her hair and I read a children story to her delight this went on for the rest of the days we stayed there; the family entertained us as much as they could and took us to some beautiful places.


During this time I learned that when Lupita was happy she made little gurgling sounds and when she was unhappy she made shrieking noises that pierced our ears. Luckily this didn’t happen very often.  Lupita’s mother was wonderful and she calmed her down when needed.


We went to the town fair on the last day of our visit. The fair was small, just a few rides, and lots of little food stands and trinkets that you could win. I don’t know how, but I won a fairly large doll and gave it to Lupita, oh my, you could see the joy in her eyes. All the time we were at the fair she wouldn’t let go of my hand, and I noticed that my friend Catalina avoided us.
While doing the packing to go home Catalina said to me. “Tell me the truth; were you not embarrassed that Lupita was with you all the time?” Always hanging from your hand! I looked at her straight in the eye and I said “Embarrassed?” Oh my God, I was proud that she chose me as a friend! You ignored us most of the time; don’t you know that under that terrible little body is a loving soul?

 

The trip back home was a little bit awkward I, knew Catalina felt bad, finally she said,” I am sorry, but she scared me!”

 

I never saw Lupita again, Catalina and I continued being good friends and we had some great adventures together, until our lives took a different path.

 

Saravdw

 

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