On the morning of Saturday, October 8, 1983, the phone rang pretty early. It was my grandmother calling to let us know my aunt had given birth to her third child, a boy she and my uncle named Joshua Jeffrey. I remember being so excited to go to school on Monday morning and tell everyone I had a new cousin in New York, either named Joshua Jeffrey or Jeffrey Joshua. At the time, I was a 9 year old fourth grader in Davenport, WA and New York was a far away place on the other side of the country that took days to get to.
The first time I met Josh was the summer of 1986 when my brother and I went to New York to spend some time at Grandma's. (Turns out it doesn't take days if you go by plane). I was 12 and Josh was almost 3. He was a very happy little boy-always smiling-with a head of blond curls. The things I remember most from this trip are that we went to the Scottish Games Festival and he got this plastic constable-style hat that he absolutely refused to take off. There are a lot of pictures with him in this hat! The other thing I remember is that we had watched "Back to the Future," and he kept jumping on and off the couch saying "I have to tell you about the future! I have to tell you about the future!"
I next saw him two years later but I don't remember a lot from this trip. It was a shorter trip and we didn't see as much of my aunt and uncle and cousins as we had the first time. The only thing I really remember is my cousins had friends over and my cousins got in trouble and my aunt made us all go play kickball to punish us. Eventually, she came out too and I realized what I cool aunt I have.
The next time I saw Josh I was a sophomore in college and he was 9. By this time, we had moved to Idaho and the New Yorkers had moved to Florida. Grandma flew me down there for Spring Break. By this time, Josh was a baseball fan and I noticed he had an autographed picture of one of my favorite players, Walt Weiss, which I thought was so cool. Even more cool was that Josh had met Walt 3 times. He also had the game "Guess Who?" that he loved to play and since I was "new" I was the only one who would play it with him. I think the others got tired of getting beat by a 9 year old. He was pretty good at that game.
The second day I was at my aunt's house, my aunt took me to the beach and conveniently "forgot" the sunblock. You do not take a girl from Idaho to the beach in Florida in March without sunblock without consequences. I have never been so badly sunburnt in my life! I felt so bad when Josh got home from school and came over to give me a big hug and I couldn't let him because it hurt too bad. He also did something to tick off his big sister, as little brothers often do, and she told him he was adopted, which is why he didn't look like her or their older brother. He was crushed, and I wanted to kill her I was so mad! So, I told him that I very clearly remembered the day he was born and he didn't look like his brother and sister because they looked like their dad and he looked like their mom. He seemed to accept this as his beautiful smile returned and he suggested we play a game.
I never would have guessed that would be the last time I would see Josh alive. Two years ago yesterday, my youngest cousin died as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He left this world entirely too young at the age of 22, but was welcomed in Heaven by my dad (his uncle), our aunt and our grandfather that none of us grandchildren got to meet in this life. I cherish the few memories that I have of him. I didn't get to know him as well as I could-or should have. But, he has and always will have a very special place in my heart.