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Today I am going to introduce you all to my cousin “Lee” she gets called many things but for today she is Lee or LeCuzz, she came up with another of her kooky ideas and gave us nicknames.. she is “LeCuzz” being Lee Cousin. I am Kcuzz being Kim Cousin, she tried to get our partners to be RCuzz and CCuzz but it didn’t stick with them!!
So Lee Jane McGrath is my cousin, our Mothers were sisters and Lee was born on 4th June 1969.. she got the “Cool year” no one forgets her birth year!!
That makes me 602 days Or 1 year, 7 months, 24 days older than her… and since Lee is the Math whizz yes I did google that!! I am the English she is the Math, she is the hands on I am the thinker.. we are as different a chalk and cheese but she and I are twins, we have our disagreements and we even fall out sometimes but we ALWAYS with a capital A come back to each other because we are meant to be like Bread and butter.
with My primary school teacher Stuart Cooper.. I had him for Grade 5 and 6
When Lee was quite young, her Mum, my Aunty May passed away from a cancer, and Lee being only about 6 years old at the time, went to live with the next door neighbour. Another thing about Lee and I, we are both the youngest children in a family of five (there’s actually six in mine I found out much later!!) her older sister and brothers had moved out or were being raised by their Dad who wasn’t too sure about raising a girl child. So Lee and I grew up together, right around the corner from each other in fact only 6 houses away from each other. We went to school together, and when I was in Grade one and broke my collarbone, I missed so much school I stayed down a year, Lee caught up and we were in the same grade all but one year, and when I left school at 16 she kept going.. that was the only time we were not in the same grade.
Self timers are fun!!! Lee came up with this idea.. school holiday fun with the children.
So growing up was kind of like a huge competition between us, we both wore hand me downs, we both ate lunch from a brown paper bag while other girls had fancy lunch boxes from Disneyland. we were like twins kind of, even our school photos are similar! And because we spent so much time together, people began to confuse us.. calling me Lee or her Kim, it still to this very day happens, people will look at us and then get our names wrong so we call ourselves “Kimlee” and answer to either name. It doesn’t annoy us it’s funny, since I am tall and she is shorter and we are very different you’d think we would be easy to keep the names straight, it happened again on Sunday!
She missed my first wedding so second time round she was bridesmaid!
Lee and I have always done everything together, when it came time to choose secondary schools (back in the day we called them “high Schools”) my parents were all for sending me to an all girls school, but then I wouldn’t be with Lee who was going to the Co_ed school where her older brother was going, I begged and cried and sulked it took my older wise cousin Reg (Lee’s Middle brother) to convince my parents they should let me go to that school with Lee and Him and his words were “Aunty Eileen I swear I’ll take good care of the girls, no one will touch them!” it worked!! I got to go to school with Lee and Reg and then we got a whole other level of stuff to do together.. School camps, orienteering, I remember the time in Le Cross in sport lesson, well, I hated sport, and Lee excelled at it and so we were on opposing teams and she was winning because she knew I was a terrible player and so she kept on targeting me and winning! I got so mad at her I flung the Le Cross stick at her and smacked her in the head and stormed off the field.. and again in Tennis, this time I threw the tennis racket at her! I was always terrible at sport and at math, and Lee excelled at those, I was good at English, Art and Geography, she was good at Music, I was good at Drama, we were both sort of okish at Graphics but Lee was definitely better at science, but I kicked her butt in French.. so usually we would help each other with homework and we both did OK.
Japanese Summer festival.. 2013 with Matsu Mal.
When I left school at sixteen, I had an older boyfriend, I started working at the local supermarket and had a whole new lifestyle. Lee moved to live with friends in another suburb and so for a few years we lost contact.. back then there were no mobile phones and no emails, rarely any house phones. So from 16 to the age of 20 I did not see too much of my cousin, although I kept up with her comings and goings through her older brother Robert.
Suddenly I am 20 married and living in a house in the suburb of Preston, Lee had been living in Broadmedows which wasn’t too far away a train ride.She came to visit and told us how she needed a place to live so she stayed with us for about 12 months I think, we made up for the lost time.
Red Hatters Movie night, Lee chose the movie, worst movie ever so she was banned from choosing again!
Then she met a man and they got together and they moved into “a house around the corner” not quite as close as the houses when we were growing up but still within walking distance. We ended up having babies together, Lee had Miss T in July and I had Jarrah in August 1 month, 10 days apart. So then we had another layer of similarities and our children grew up together and went to kinder together and then started school together, history was repeating itself.
Date night.. Pirates of the Yarrabean, it was great fun to dress up and go on a cruise.
When I moved to Sunbury in the year 2002 pregnant with Star Son (you’ll meet him soon he’s letter “W”) Lee, (who was pregnant too with her second daughter Rachael) and her partner Craig moved to Doncaster and we made day trips to visit but it wasn’t the same it was too far away! So In October of 2002, when we brought the house we own now, we still had the mortgage to the Bloke’s (you’ll meet him soon too he’s letter R) house so The Bloke suggested as a job that Lee and Craig move into our house to pay off our mortgage, well they jumped at the chance and so by the time Rachael was born in November, we were ALL living in Sunbury together, again, “around the corner” from each other, a little bit further again, but it still is around the corner. Star Son was born in January and Rachael was born in November making them 294 days Or 9 months, 21 days age difference.. it seems to be a recurring theme.
When I wanted to start a Red Hatters group I roped Lee in as Queen of Vice (second in charge) one of our nights out.
In 2012 Lee, Craig, Rachael and Us and a bunch of friends went on a camping trip to Mansfield in Victoria over the Easter weekend,Lee was bored so I asked her “Do you want me to teach you some art?” I’d recently started an online art class. Lee gave me the classic line “Well I can’t draw a stick figure” So I started her off on the basics. From there I created a monster and I am sure there are times when Craig who is an art widower, regrets me sparking that little fire in her.
2011, before either of us were really “into Art” we did an Aboriginal Art session at Halls Gap while away camping.
There are many many good times I could share about my cousin and my best friend and my confident and my collaborator, we now take it in turns to find the next lot of trouble we are going to get into.
Now She and Craig are still living in Sunbury, we are not quite around the corner from each other, in fact opposite sides of Sunbury but that’s ok, we text and we chat on facebook and they have their onsite caravan directly behind ours so we spend weekends together, the blokes go off and do whatever and we do art!
The bottom line is nothing is too much for her, if I need anything like when my first marriage was crumbling and I didn’t have a clue what to do, I went to Lee’s house and I cried, and within an hour she’d made coffee, made some phone calls, made some appointments and got me straightened out. Before I knew it she’d taken charge and got me sorted out, I wish I had half an ounce of the strength Lee has got. I appreciate her every minute I get to spend with her. And I hope she knows that!