I have a smaller family than most people I know. I have one sister–as you know–and our parents each only have one sibling. Between our uncle on mom’s side and our aunt on dad’s side, we have six cousins.

When we were kids, we all lived in the Chicago area and we saw a lot of the four cousins on our mom’s side. Some of my favorite childhood memories include those four boys. When we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house together, we rode bikes and messed around in the yard, and we also played with the cases full of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars that were kept there for us (including that 1938 Ford Coupe that I hide whenever my one of cousins who still lives locally comes to my house, for fear he’ll confiscate it). When we visited them at their house, we spent hours playing with their Hot Wheels cars along with their track sets, racing for hours. They always had what we thought was the coolest stuff. They introduced us to Intellivision video games, and they showed us how to skateboard. I loved skateboarding with them so much that my parents eventually bought me a hot pink skateboard of my own. (In fact, we eventually ended up getting an Intellivision console, too!) They had a rock tumbler, and when I saw the beautifully smooth and shiny polished rocks, I started a rock collection. They had a basement full of fish tanks, and gave me a ten-gallon tank for my birthday one year. Our cousins introduced us to the Sony Walkman (which immediately went on my wishlist), and even the Betamax. (I guess they couldn’t hit a homerun on everything!)

We didn’t always hang out together in a big group, especially as we started to get a little older. The youngest of the boys (Aaron) is just a couple of months younger than my sister so they were good buddies, and the second youngest is just a year older than me so I spent lots of time with him.

Brian and I had so much fun together back then. When we weren’t doing all of the things I already wrote about, we took walks around the neighborhood, played ball, picked on the younger two, and in some of our quieter moments, laid down on the living room floor and took turns “drawing” words and pictures on the ceiling with flashlights, each of us trying to guess what the other one was doing. I used to laugh when he and the older boys tried their best to teach their bird to say, “Uh oh! Here comes Aaron!” Over the holidays we would stay at their house and I used to get up before dawn to accompany Brian on his newspaper route. When we were together he was a lot like I imagined a brother would be, and I will treasure those memories forever.

I haven’t seen Brian in years. I’m pretty sure the last time I saw him was at his wedding, and I don’t even know how long ago that was…fifteen years? Sixteen? More? He lives in Texas now, and isn’t the best at keeping in touch. Well, neither am I in this case. That makes me sad.

I recently found out that he and his family will be attending Aaron’s California wedding, which is coming up in just a couple of months. This thrills me to no end. I look forward to reconnecting and hopefully putting some measures into place so we can stay connected. I’m thinking about packing my flashlight.

Melisa and Brian at Farrell's