Day 16: Post a picture that makes you smile.
Kenny is my second cousin–the son of my pop-pop’s sister. So just by virtue of his age he’s really always been more like an uncle, so much so that unlike with any other cousin, my sisters and I put a handle on his name. He was never just Kenny, he was Cousin Kenny. Even his brothers and sister didn’t get that title.
When I was a little girl, Cousin Kenny lived in Delaware for a time (he spent most of his life in my dad’s family’s hometown in Virginia). In my eyes he was one cool dude and larger than life–largely because of his afro, “duds” and the platform shoes he wore. Cousin Kenny was always a small man. He stuttered, especially the more alcohol he drank, but I never saw that as the kind of flaw that could mitigate his coolness.
And he is one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. Something happened on my dad’s side of the family that made the males these kindhearted hardasses. Actually, when I think about it the bulk of their “hardness” comes from their unwavering sense of justice: wrongs must be righted; women and children protected. Even though Cousin Kenny has a son and daughter of his own, my sisters and I were his girls.
It’s a role I don’t think I really began to cherish until, well, the years around the time this picture was taken. I’ve often taken for granted the cheerleaders in my life; was kinda distrustful of their intentions–well, I believed that they were just doing “their job.”
Maturity has its perks and one is being able to recognize and appreciate the shoulders on whom you’ve stood to get to where you are. See I never really realized the things Cousin Kenny said; how he acted towards me–like I was the best thing since sliced bread–had any effect on me. But I realize that those people around you, family and elders, who ingrain in your head by word and or deed that you are somebody special are really, really important.
If somebody as cool as Cousin Kenny, in his big afro and platforms, could think I was cool, well doggone it, somewhere along the way I’m gonna start believing it. Like I said, it took me a minute. But I smile when I see this picture–it’s the last time I actually saw him before his transition–because it makes me happy that I had/have those people like Cousin Kenny in the first place.