“Soul” Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina)
We were walking along a Pensacola beach around 8 a.m., after coffee and before the rest of the folks got up. We aimed to walk to the distant pier and talked nonstop the whole way. Like evenly-matched tennis players, we served and volleyed kid woes back and forth. “He sneaks out the house so often, we have to hide our car keys now.” “Her grades have dropped ‘cause she skips all the time.” “His room reeks of pot.” “I hear ya’!”
Somehow letting go of our tales of angst gives us a kind of inner release. We offer the worry and fear up to the sun, the waves, the breeze, and we become free to laugh out loud. Gina and I totally “get” each other, and for two hours we feel better. On the walk back to our beach-front rental, we even rush into the surf for a quick swim and more laughter as we jump and dive into the waves. Like a couple of kids!
Gina is my first cousin and my “soul” sister. Even though she lived an hour away from my hometown, we saw each other often growing-up. We shared every Keller family reunion or big holiday party at Grandma’s house for sure. Also, we had full weeks at a time during the summer when we visited each other’s homes or went to our Indian Village camp with Grandma and Stella.
During the 1980’s we got married and raised our kids in different states. We didn’t spend long visits together, yet later we grabbed summer getaways when we both became public school teachers. In 1998 and 2010 we even took trips to NYC to visit my sister Gayle and sightsee and reconnect. Gina and I snap back together easily, no matter how long we have been apart. We share our Cajun culture, our Keller connection, and our childhood memories, and our family tragedies. Gina is a close cousin, a trusted friend, a wise woman, a spiritual guide, and my soul sister. She has a wit like a whip, yet it’s made of purple yarn or silly string. Her sarcasm is swift, yet stingless. And we share a deep, honest love of movies that began in 1968 when we were both enchanted by Funny Girl. Walking from Grandma’s to the Saturday matinees at the Liberty and then returning to sneak cigarettes while Grandma napped were big teenage moments for me. We also worked in the theater’s concession stand and played tennis, went swimming, and obsessed over cute boys to fill the lazy summer days with good times.
Throughout the sad, sad times and the glory days, humor has helped hold us together. Two years ago we shared a weekend in Galveston at her sister Dana’s beach house, and while attempting to take a selfie, Gina and I laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks as we fought to keep the other bodily liquid from running down our legs!
Now she and I even have similar living situations. My 89-year-old dad lives with me, and Gina lives with her 87-year-old mom (my dad’s sister). So Gina and I chat and commiserate and explain and laugh over phone calls. We still “get” each other, and as we face family challenges, we share sorrows and successes and above all we laugh. Gina is a devoted daughter, a mighty mother, and a strong Grandma GiGi. Time with Gina is always honest and often hysterical. It can be gut-wrenching and still stay golden. We connect easily, strongly, and soulfully.