Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Rissa, My Little Shadow

Yep, you guessed it...I've got a huge family and this series will continue for quite awhile. We haven't even hit the months where there will be double posts!

Ah, Miss Riss, My little shadow. Rissa is fifth in the lineup and five years younger than I am. She was born 11 days after my fifth birthday. Thanks Aunt Al for one of the best presents ever.

You see, Carrie had Brianne, Brianne had Sarah,Sarah had Brianne and Carrie. Rissa was my best pal cousin, my little shadow. We were always inseparable and our age difference never really mattered to us. We got along just fine, she was never a little baby in my eyes. I will admit, she probably was the first one to fall in line with my hairbrained schemes because she looked up to me and would easily follow along.

"Me and My Shadow"
We had grand adventures together, dressing up, playing store or post office under Grandma's table, Mc Donald's drive thru in the pool and spa at our grandparents house. We never lacked in imagination and always had so much fun.

I think that I enjoyed my teen and her tween years the best. We both bonded over our love for Joe Mc Intyre from New Kids on The Block. We never fought over him, we shared our love ( because we all know I loved him more..*giggles*)

My favorite thing to do was pick the girls up from St.Bruno's school and drive to Penn Park to roll down the hills before homework time. There was this one time though when the brakes in my little red Datsun failed as we all leaned forward to go faster down hill. Being a new driver, I didn't know to pull the emergency brake and let's just say that we narrowly escaped a brick wall and a Mercedes on a blind turn in Uptown Whittier. Yeah, Riss NEVER  let's me forget that one!

One of my most favorite memories is from my bridal shower. I was nineteen, Rissa was fourteen and lamenting the loss of her ringleader. She wrote me the most wonderful note telling me that we were growing up and our childhood was over. She wrapped up her Joe doll and giant Joe button for me to remember our precious childhood. I still cry thinking about it. Of course, she walked down the aisle ahead of me on the beautiful March day.

Flash forward fourteen years later, it was Rissa's turn to be the bride. It was during the darkest time in my life and her wedding was a light spot during the time. I had plan, I had waited YEARS for my turn to repay the favor and in those years, Rissa had probably forgotten about the Joe doll. I couldn't wait for my plan to unfold.

I wrote her this letter told her to read it and then open her gift. Here is the order of events:
Read this letter. "What did you do Julie?"


YEP! Joe doll and button passed back!

One of the best moments of my life! Truly special!

It was so much fun to give the Joe doll back to her! We still haven't been able to achieve our dream of seeing NKOTB together. Next year, next tour, we are going together! It must happen.

The night before her wedding after the rehearsal dinner. I told the girls to put on sweatshirts and come with me. This time we towed along our younger cousins Alex and Randon along with my children to Penn Park. In the cloak of night, grown women with lives, we forgot it all and rolled down the hills carefree. Just being girls in the park once again. 

Until we remembered that Rissa shouldn't roll down hills since she had been in a terrible accident that broke her neck two years before. Sometimes as adults, you can't be so carefree was fun while it lasted. The next day was a beautiful day, very emotional seeing my baby cousin get married and join me in adulthood. 

This year Rissa joined me in the ranks of motherhood when her precious daughter Drew was born. It's so much fun sharing these bonds together. Every Friday since Drew was born, she sends a picture of Drew for me to see. (In fact, yesterday was Friday missy and you forgot. Get on it!) Lately we've been exchanging baby pics for New Kids pics. Always a good laugh.

Riss, we've been through it all together. Thank you for being one of the best "sister" cousins a girl could ask for. For all the teary phone calls, all the fun phone calls, rolling down the hills and for being my little shadow. You truly are my sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, you'll never know dear how much I love you.

Happy birthday Riss! Love, Jules

Momma Riss

Riss and I dancing on her wedding day

PS Miss Riss is a English teacher so writing this blog was extra intense. Please don't grade me on puncuation Riss, okay?