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July, 2000

My Mentor, Marcile

by Larry

My cousin Marcile was born not quite a month after I was, on November 22, 1943. She died last month, on June 13, 2000, at age 56.
Larry and Marcile, 1948, San Antonio, Texas.

During three periods in our lives we visited with one another fairly frequently, twice when we were children, in San Antonio, and once, in the days when, after my family moved to Austin following Dad's retirement from the Air Force, I was finishing high school and beginning college and there were numerous get-togethers, often on a weekly basis, among my family, my paternal grandparents, Papa Frank and Mama Pearl, and Marcile and her parents, Aunt Lucile and Uncle Shelby. My older cousin, Bob, Marcile's brother, also figured prominently in my childhood and, when I knew him best , around 1953, he was a former Eagle Scout, a pre-med student, and spending a lot of time with a pretty girl named Pat. A few years ago, Marcile and I again renewed our friendship, with a couple visits my mom and I made to the beautiful lakeside home Marcile then shared with her parents, in Scroggins, Texas, not far from where Bob, now a doctor, and his wife Pat, live, along with nearby children and grandchildren.

Being the same age and living in close proximity, Marcile and I became playmates and friends. In contrast to my own sometimes moody temperament, she had an almost permanently agreeable disposition. Playful, tender, and quick to laugh, she was an excellent complement to some of the darker complications of my personality, buoying me up, mellowing me, showing and helping me how to simply have fun and enjoy our companionship. She was, to me, a precious lady, with a big heart and, when something touched her, a huge, eager smile that lit up her face.

And so we delighted in one another's company, whether racing around the neighborhood on our souped-up tricycles, with names like "Roadster" or "Torpedo," playing with Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, enjoying my dog or cat pets, listening to records, watching television movies, making Tinker Toy constructions, and so on. Even on one of my last visits, we still had a close bond; and I delighted in sharing with her the viewing of a favorite videotaped movie, so loved and familiar that she was often excitedly whispering to me the lines or scenes that were coming next.
Marcile, about 1995, in her home
in Scroggins, Texas.

She was, as well, my teacher. I know some may find this hard to believe; but at times I can be a bit difficult. Actually, though, I used to be much worse, expecting to have my own way, often complaining, rude, argumentative, prone to the worst qualities of many (but not all!) an only-child (which, of course, I was for nearly eight years). But Marcile helped me smooth some of those rough edges.

For example, once when we were playing with Legos or some such, and had just laboriously completed an elaborate and high wall, she either accidentally or for effect brushed against it and knocked it down. Like Humpty Dumpty, it was not to be put together again. In a display of temper, I yelled at her: "What's the matter with you!? Are you stupid!?" I soon forgot the incident and went on with our play.

But Marcile had not forgotten; and, later that day, her mother had a chat with my mother; and my mother had a discussion with me. Then I found myself, in one of the more excruciating moments of my life, sincerely apologizing to Marcile.

No, she was not stupid. Indeed, I was her student. She taught me at least a modicum of patience, sharing, sensitivity, love, and friendship, lessons of the heart. And she showed me, by example, the Zen-like simplicity of fully absorbing and appreciating things, one experience and moment at a time.

I shall miss her, my dear, innocent cousin, my friend, my mentor, Marcile.

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