Our Family Scrapbook

My cousin, Edward

You kids didn’t know my cousin, Edward, but you’ve heard me talk about him. Wasn’t he a cute little guy? That’s his sister, Brenda, beside him.

Edward was Anita’s son. She was the second eldest in the family, after Nanny. She got pregnant as a teenager, but I never knew who the father was. Edward didn’t know, either. How sad that he never knew his father. So, Anita got married to another guy named Leo Whelan, who was, to put it plainly, an irresponsible, booze-guzzling loser. He and Anita had a child together, Brenda.

Anita was also a drinker and depressed and angry most of the time. She did not provide the love, care and nurturing the kids should have had. For example, one morning, she put Edward on a metal pot in his high chair, tied him in, and returned to bed. The poor little guy began to get very sore from sitting on the pot and cried for attention. Luckily, my grandmother, who lived next door, heard him and went to his rescue. She found him with a red and irritated ring around his little bottom—poor little Edward.

Anita eventually divorced Leo and met up with a man named John Burante. John was a vast improvement from Leo. Still, though, Edward was left without parental love and care. He turned to drugs and got into all sorts of mischief; he even had a gun. One night, he put a gun to your father’s head and thought it was funny. Your father didn’t laugh. Another time, he got into a fight with a guy in a bar and went out to the car (probably not his), got a baseball bat and went back to beat the guy up. He went to jail for five years for attempted murder.

He met a girl, and they had three kids, all boys. She left the marriage, and he raised the boys on his own. He got a job as a house painter and supported himself. Later, he met another girl, and they became a couple. They moved into an apartment together, living on welfare, and she took good care of him. Sadly, he got leukemia and was given a short time to live. Although he and I hadn’t seen each other in decades, he called me to tell me about his illness. I commiserated with and told him to keep in touch with me. He called me again some time later to tell me that he had just a short time to live. I decided that I would go to the hospital to visit him. When I entered his room, his face lit up, and he said, “You came!” I was so glad I had decided to visit him; I was the only one in the family who had done so. He was clean-shaven, thanks to his partner (whose name I can’t recall). We chatted for quite a while, and he boasted about his run-ins with the law. We talked about God, too, and he told me he had begun to pray and wanted God’s forgiveness. I told him if he prayed for it, he would have it. I also told him he would go to Heaven.

He died shortly after that visit, and sometimes, my heart still aches for the unfairness of life. One last note: Edward was a fabulous dancer like Michael Jackson!

I occasionally remember Edward in my prayers, and I know he’s up there with Jesus.

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