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Tribute to a Cousin and Role Model

MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, helps grieving persons by sharing practical suggestions and by her personal expressions of grief.

Living about a mile apart, sharing the same grandmother, and having only six years between us, my first-cousin Deloris and I were close during our preteen and teenage years. My first memory of her brings her walking to the home I shared with our grandmother and my mother (her aunt) just before the dusk of many evenings. There were no phones by which to give notice that she was coming. She simply showed up and spent the night. For me, the only child residing in the house, her company was welcomed and never lasted long enough.

My mother and grandmother liked to have Delores spend time with me. We loved each other. She was a churchgoer, a Bible reader and a morality practitioner–honest, decent, respectful and respectable. To them and many others who knew her, she was the lovely image of a sensible teenage girl stepping purposefully into productive womanhood. She was a desirable role model.

Physical Beauty

What I remember vividly about those days, more than the food we ate or the conversations we had is how beautiful Deloris was. Photographs were not a regular feature of life in the 1950s, at least not in our family; but I wish that her children and grandchildren could see just one picture of the lovely teen girl named Deloris. She was tall, medium brown, and attractive in features as well as physical form. The silk in her black hair suggested a racial mix, and never looked prettier than when she wore them in two plaits falling down on either side of her face.

Deloris, the First

In retrospect, Deloris possessed another kind of beauty that impacted me even more. In today’s society, it might not be deemed worthy of mention; but for the impact it made on an impressionable young girl who adored and admired her older female cousin, it has to be told.

Our grandmother and her four sisters were all single mothers, having borne their children out of wedlock. Two of the sisters married in their senior years.

Our mothers and their sister all bore their children out of wedlock. None of them ever married. We did not judge our predecessors. Instead, we were mindful that they encouraged us to pursue a lifestyle different than theirs.

Among three generations of women (on my mother’s side) Deloris was the first to become a young bride, establish a family complete with a husband and wife, and bear all her children within her marriage. She broke the circle of unmarried motherhood, which in my opinion was a testament to the beauty of positive womanhood. Her achievement influenced me to strive for the same. She also has daughters who followed in her steps.

In workshops for women over the years, my reference for strength of character has often been my cousin who grew up like a lily in a swamp, refusing to settle in the muddy tradition surrounding her, and instead, absorbing and reflecting the radiance of the life-nurturing sun.

Virtuous Womanhood

Deloris and I grew too far apart after I migrated for college. She stayed at home and became a mother. The constant theme whenever I inquired about her was how industrious, how hardworking a wife and mother she had become. We did not communicate directly, but neither did we doubt our mutual love.

I had been gone for many years before I returned home and discovered that my cousin had remained true to the God of her childhood and true to the principles of wise womanhood which we had learned from our mothers and grandmother. Her children had done well academically and professionally, and they put her on equal standing with the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 of whom it is said, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (Verse 31)

The following quotes are dedicated to the memory of my cousin:

"A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.” - Marion C. Garretty

“In my cousin, I find a second self.” - Isabel Norton

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the cousins together.” - Woodrow Wilson

“Cousins are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” - Ed Cunningham

"At Christmas, cousins are the presents under the tree." – Karen Decourcey

Her Final Days

Deloris survived some health complications, and then spent her final years confined to bed. She was honest about her aches and discomfort, but they did not erase the sweet memory of better days. On occasions, she still joked and laughed and she habitually prayed.

On the day that she passed, I visited her in the hospital. To my untrained eye, there was no evidence that death was near. She was alert and talked clearly enough. Visiting hours expired, and I left with a promise to return. Delores said okay, but shortly after, she said her final goodbyes to her children and passed on. We will miss her, but the memories of our early childhood and of her later years will remain a treasure.

May her beautiful, loving, hardworking, persevering soul finally rest in peace!

© 2018 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 23, 2020:

Thanks, Umesh. Your comment is very encouraging.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 23, 2020:

Vividly narrated. Good reading.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 12, 2018:

Laura, thank you for the reminder to give accolades to the living. I appreciate your encouraging comment.

Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on September 12, 2018:

Such a nice eulogy and history of your cousin. I'm sure she would have loved all of the good things that you took the time to notice and share. I think it demonstrates how we think these things but don't always say them, and it's a good reminder to tell the people you are closest with the best things about them. That kind of positive affirmation keeps us going day after day and motivates us to continue to live as the best version of ourselves.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 07, 2018:

Thanks, Ann. As we get older and our loved relatives pass on, the memories become more precious and we find a way to memorialize them. Yes, she was special!

Ann Carr from SW England on September 06, 2018:

She was obviously a wonderful woman and you were lucky to have her as a cousin. I can feel your love for her through your words. A brilliant role model, indeed, Dora. Thank you for sharing this.

Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 22, 2018:

Thanks, Natalie. My cousin was certainly a blessing!

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on August 21, 2018:

Such a beautiful story and tribute. It is so wonderful you had such a special presence in your life.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 12, 2018:

Carmen, may God's comfort and peace maintain you and your siblings throughout your grief. Count on my prayers and support.

Carmen on August 11, 2018:

Thanks cousin sound words. My heart is full. I am contented. She has fought fight. She has kept the faith. She shall be rewarded. I have no regrets. She is in a better place. Her legacy lives on. Thank God.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 04, 2018:

Jo, thank you. Guaranteed that your granddaughters will enjoy each other, especially with you around. Childhood with cousins are the best!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 04, 2018:

What a wonderful tribute to your cousin, Dora. I just spent a week with my four granddaughters and I hope they too will have wonderful memories of their cousins. My early years that I spent with my cousins as playmates are some of my best memories now.

Miebakagh Fiberesima on August 03, 2018:

Hi, Dora, not at all, please.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 03, 2018:

Miebakagh, thanks for your comforting message. My grandmother's parallel to your statement was, "the way of all flesh."

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 02, 2018:

Hi MsDora, all, cousins are very special. Who doubt it? May MsDora cousin rest in peace. It is the way of all the earth.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 02, 2018:

Thanks, Krzystof. Yes, cousins are special, especially when like for an only child like me they double as siblings.

Krzysztof Willman from Parlin, New Jersey on August 02, 2018:

This is a lovely tribute. Cousins are just as special as any close friend, sibling, child, or parent and your story was very heartfelt.

Deloris would be smiling.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 02, 2018:

Thanks, Kiki. Glad that my article affects you the way it does. I love all my cousins. You may want to write one for me, so stay close.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 02, 2018:

Thanks, Manatita. Even now, I have to appreciate your beautiful phraseology of "loving lap."

Cousin kiki on August 02, 2018:

Very nice article Aunty Dora. Feeling so close to Deloris because of this lovely tribute. You have really shine a light for her memories to live on.

manatita44 from london on August 01, 2018:

A beautiful tribute to your very special cousin. May she rests in the loving lap of the Supreme.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Thanks, Jodah. If I did not do this, I would be less than proud of myself. Thanks for your kind comment.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 30, 2018:

What a beautiful and touching tribute, MsDora. I am sure Deloris would be so proud.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Chitrangada, I am grateful for your prayers. My cousin and I were much closer in our youth, and the time we spent together during her final years were just as meaningful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Thanks, Peg. My considerate HP colleagues like yourself have given meaningful encouragement. Blessings on all of you!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Thanks, Linda. She was lovely, despite the meaning of her name - sorrows.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 30, 2018:

So sorry to hear about your personal loss!

You seem to be very close to your cousin, and by your beautiful tribute, she sounds like a wonderful person.

Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories! My prayers!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 30, 2018:

What an amazing tribute to your dear friend and cousin. Those are the kind of memories that etch themselves into our lives and create lasting impressions. Thanks for sharing this delightful person who was so dear to you. My heart goes out to you in your time of loss.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 30, 2018:

I'm very sorry for your loss, Dora. You've created a beautiful tribute to Deloris. She sounds like a lovely person.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Thanks, Liz. I wish that I had spoken these words to her face; she deserves this tribute.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Thanks, Shauna. It means so much to me that I was able to spend time with her in her final moments. Another precious memory!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 30, 2018:

Miebakagh, thanks for your comment. Yes, my cousin and I will meet again.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 30, 2018:

This is a tremendous tribute to your cousin.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 30, 2018:

Dora, this is a beautiful tribute to your cousin and the legacy she leaves behind. I'm glad you were able to spend some time with her before she passed.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 30, 2018:

Hello Dora, this is a good article you wrote in memory of a dear person, a cousin,who later pass away.

You miss her in person. But not at heart and memory. You both will meet again at the last hour.

Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Thank you, Denise. I appreciate your encouragement.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on July 29, 2018:

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful memory!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Thanks Eric. You teach me so many lessons too. Glad that our paths cross.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Ioannis, thanks for your prayers. Yes, I will strive to imitate her good qualities.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Thanks, Bill H. As we age, we watch our loved ones leave but we never get accustomed to having them depart. We just have to make good memories while we can.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Jackie, thanks for sharing your cousin's story. I have seen other cases like that where one family member seems so passive about spiritual things, and then their spirituality blooms later. Let's not give up on any of them.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Marigie, I felt obligated to share her story of virtuous womanhood. Thanks for your kind comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Mary, thanks for sharing. Your grandchildren are blessed to have each other. My cousins were all I had, since I am an only child. I still like to visit with the cousins who are still around.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Bill, thanks for your prayers. You remind me that there are so many other people suffering various kinds of losses and they also need our prayers.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Thanks, Flourish. Yes she was a sweetheart. I am content that she is now at rest.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Glen, thanks for sharing your story of the close bond with your cousin. Sorry you lost her, You obviously had special ties. Thank God, we have the memories to live on.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 29, 2018:

This is such a great lesson for me today. I guess a life and death lesson. How good that such a fine woman could die with such loving grace that she practiced life long.

Doris I just love reading about your personal culture. Thank you.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on July 29, 2018:

My prayers are with this Beautiful Woman and great Soul, my dear Sister! Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute. She lives in you so she is still a gift to the world!

Sean

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2018:

A beautiful human being...a beautiful tribute...I am sorry for your loss, Dora!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 29, 2018:

Such a beautiful story, Dora!

I had a cousin my age I spent about every summer with and she bossed me around unmercifully. Her mother took us to every church service and I loved them so much and that Holy power, but my cousin sprawled on a bench sucking her cola with a nipple on it. I just never remember her paying attention to one service. We only saw each other once after the age of 15 and she seemed the same so imagine my surprise to see that cousin now on Facebook, loving the Lord and shouting about it. Guess that is proof positive about raising your children up in the ways of the Lord?

Well, just another cousin story!

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on July 29, 2018:

Dora what a beautiful tribute to your cousin Deloris! Thanks for sharing the awesome story!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 29, 2018:

How beautiful your tribute is to your cousin. She lived an exemplary life. Our grandchildren are here now and I see how much they have grown and how well they care for each other. They admire ach other, too, and really work well with each other. Their friends often wonder when they tell them of their summer how they can live together under one roof.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 29, 2018:

What a lovely tribute to a special cousin, Dora. Yes, her memories live on with you. May they be your comfort at such a time as this. Sending prayers and sympathy.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 29, 2018:

I’m sorry for your loss, Dora, as your cousin sounds like she was a beautiful person inside and out. I’m glad you have sweet memories of her to nourish you.

Glen Rix from UK on July 29, 2018:

I'm sorry for your loss, Dora. Blood, as they say, is often thicker than water and so our cousins can become our closest friends. We play together as children, share confidences as teenagers, and have many shared memories as we grow older.

I lost my lifelong friend, my cousin Valerie, when she was only forty years old and all these years later I still miss her company. I had a very uncanny experience on the day that she died. The night before she passed, I had visited her in hospital. The following day I was driving past the hospital and suddenly I had an experience that I can only describe as a sensation of a chord snapping. My immediate thought was 'Val has died', and it turned out that she had, it seems almost at the same moment. I guess that it's an example of the strong unseen bonds that tie us to those we love.

It's good that you can look back with loving memories of a good friend and role model. Blessings.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 29, 2018:

Thanks, Cynthia. Glad too that her suffering is over. Her sweet influence lives on.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on July 28, 2018:

Dora, this is a beautiful tribute to your cousin and role model! I am sorry for your loss but happy for her rest after painful, poor health, and for your splendid memories.