In Memory

Coryne Boggs (Branch)

Coryne Boggs (Branch)

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06/03/17 08:13 PM #1    

Vivian Boggs (Ferreira)

I’ve really resisted writing this portrait and I’m not sure why. I fear it will be too emotional for me and that I will cry all the way thru it. But there are those who are asking for it and looking forward to it, so I will do my very best.

Punky was Aunt Frances’ and Uncle Bibi’s second child, sister to Mollie, Stephanie and Michael. She was my favorite cousin and the closest thing I ever had to a sister. She was six months old when I was born so till the day she died she was either a huge part of my life or a huge influence on it. I’ve not had another relationship like it.

Mama returned to teaching when I was only six months old and Aunt Frances was my babysitter. That meant that Punky and I were together all day long five days a week, nine months a year till we went to kindergarten and then together after school every day till we finished primary school. We were in the same grade in school all thirteen years altho’ our parents had made an arrangement with the school officials to prevent us from ever being in the same classes. They tho’t I was too dependent on Punky and needed a little space and to establish some separation. Mine was the stronger personality of the two, but Punky’s six month age edge and other parts of her personality made her the more or less leader of our duo. Where my explosive exuberance frequently burst out in most situations, her quiet serenity was a calming factor and often the voice of sanity that usually led us in the right direction.

We grew up like twins. Mollie, at three years our senior, considered us life forms unworthy of her notice, thus those early years at Aunt Frances’ left Punky and me pretty much on our own. My own brother is eight years my junior so for those eight years Mollie and Punky were all I had in the way of siblings. It is rather incredible that I don’t remember a cross word between Punky and me. I guess we had just the right mix of togetherness and separation to temper whatever conflict could emerge. Also I think the combination of our basic natures made for harmony. Whatever the reason we got along well till the day she died.

There is a family story that on that first day of kindergarten and my first real separation from Punky, I followed her to her classroom, threw myself under her desk, grabbed hold of it, cried and refused to come out till the teacher dragged me away to my own classroom. I’ve blocked this memory out, but I have no doubt that it is true because Aunt Frances says it is, and her word is golden to me. Also knowing everything else I remember about Punky and me, it is a very believable tale. I guess our parents were right: I was too attached to her, but how could I have been otherwise? Most kids hang on to mama that first day of school. Not I; I hung on to Punky. She was my rock, my port in the storm, at times literally.

When I was born we lived a few blocks from each other and when we started school, we walked the few blocks from her house to school together. I moved away from our house on Winding Way when we were eleven and we were separated for a few years. Then her family moved a block away from mine on the same street and we were together again. Not that we had ever been truly separated; we saw each other every day at school and frequently away from it. In junior high Mama stopped every day at Punky’s to pick her up and drive us the short distance to the junior high school. Punky was always slow moving and Mama was always running late and trying to hurry her up to get in the car. For three years the routine never varied.

When Punky and I were in seventh grade I got the bright idea for us to try out for cheerleader and, of course, Punky would be my partner. We practiced and auditioned or whatever one did in those days to become cheerleader and then we bombed horribly. I think we got less votes than any other pair. I was devastated, but I soon recovered. It had been fun after all and Punky and I had a great time and a wonderful memory.

When Punky and I were in eighth grade she had a party for her fourteenth birthday, the only one I ever remember her having. It was to be a sleep over for a few girls, but boys were invited to come and stay till about 10:00PM or so. Uncle Bibi had built a playhouse behind their house on Oak Drive for all the kids. That was where the party was held. We all had our sleeping bags or pallets or what have you lined up around the walls. We set up the trusty record player, put on our favorite 45’s and danced with the boys. That party was memorable for me because one of the teenaged swains (a lady doesn’t kiss and tell names) tried to “adult” kiss me during a slow dance, the first boy to be so bold with me. I had had little experience with kissing and was not ready for a tongue exploring my uvula. He was rebuffed, not so much from lack of interest on my part, but rather from shock and ignorance. I had a crush on him for years both before and after that incident. I digress, but the point is that many of my rites of passage in life happened in close proximity to Punky and, of course, I shared every detail of that kiss, including his name, with her later. Such was our relationship.

Punky and I graduated from junior high and progressed on to high school.  We rode the bus together every day, but the no shared classroom rule was still in effect.  We may have had lunch together; I don’t remember.  We began to develop our separate relationships, but we were still very close, seeing each other away from school very often.  I remember spending more time at her house rather than at mine.  I was there part of most weekends and almost daily during summers.

Our high school baseball team went to state finals in Austin the summer between our junior and senor years.  Aunt Frances decided to drive four of us girls to see the play-offs.  I think it was Charlotte and Javiera who accompanied us.  It was a big deal for four small town high school girls to get to go to the state capitol to see a postseason game.  Aunt Frances drove us all up there and surprise of all surprises, our team won the play-off game.  The final game was set for the next day or so, and nothing would do but we must see it.  This time it was Uncle Bibi’s turn to chauffeur us.  It was a night game and we got up there and watched our team, miracle of miracles, win the state championship!  Since it was a night game, we left the stadium late.  I’m not sure what happened, but for some reason on the way home Uncle Bibi failed to fill up with gas until we could no longer find an open gas station and we were dangerously low on fuel.  I remember him making it back to LJ, and dropping Charlotte and Javiera off at their houses, hurrying them out of the car as quickly as they could so we would be able to make it back to Punky’s before we ran out of gas completely.  We made it to their house where I spent the night and that saint of a man got up early the next day to go to a gas station and get some fuel.  That trip was one of the more memorable incidents in my high school career. 

Punky and I graduated from high school and set off for college, she to UT and I to Sam Houston State.  Our lives separated for truly the first time.  When we saw each other again at Thanksgiving break, Punky had made a stark metamorphosis: the Coke bottle lens glasses were exchanged for contact lenses and Miss Clairol brightened up the dishwater blond hair.  One could actually see the lovely light green eyes and she was a blond bombshell in the most flattering sense of the word.  The caterpillar had become a beautiful butterfly and she was soaring.  She was radiant and no one was more pleased than I to see Punky finally come into her real self.

Our contact was spotty as we started our adult lives, but every time we got together we would pick up right where we left off.  She, of course, stood up for me when I married Leo.  Punky and her husband stopped over at Leo’s and my house in Baton Rouge right after my daughter, Michelle, was born for an overnight visit on their way back East.  We spent a short period living in close proximity to each other in Texas for a few years in the early ‘70s during which we saw a lot of each other.  Eventually I moved first to Austin and then to California and we were never so close again.

Punky was diagnosed with cancer and she valiantly fought the illness for a couple of years.  When it looked like her struggle was ending and the cancer was winning my brother called and suggested that I make a trip to LJ to tell Punky goodbye.  I was in such denial about losing her that it never occurred to me.   She had always been there and, tho’ I hadn’t seen much of her in recent years, I couldn’t imagine life on planet Earth without her.  I called her and casually asked if I could come for a visit.  I then made a plane reservation and went to see my beloved twin cousin for the last time.

We visited that weekend at Aunt Frances’ amid other family members and it was just like old times.  Except when I had to leave for the airport to fly home and I went over to her to say goodbye.  Punky was seated in a chair; she was too weak by that point to stand.  She pulled herself forward on the chair and embraced the lower half of my body, placing her cheek on my abdomen as I stood in front of her.  I’ll never forget that so intimate gesture.  Punky and I were extremely close, but had never been very physically demonstrative with each other.  I was a bit surprised by her display of love for me.  Altho’ I was still blissfully in denial, she knew it would be the last time we’d ever see each other.  And it was.  I flew home only to get a call a couple of weeks later telling me that she was gone.  I made another reservation and flew back to LJ for the funeral.  Charlotte was there and we held hands at the gravesite, crying together as they lowered our dear one into the ground.

Some significant relationships I know are significant in the moment.  Some I don’t realize their significance until they are over.  I knew that my relationship with Punky was significant in the moment, but not how significant till it was over.  I think I always tho’t till the end that the relationship was more important to me than to her.  She was my rock, my role model, my guiding star.  After all, how could Baby Renie be important to such a glowing luminary?  It wasn’t until the last moment that she revealed to me how significant I was to her and I will forever be grateful for all of it.  Every precious minute. 

06/03/17 10:52 PM #2    

Sue Taylor (Merritt)

Vivian. Every child should have a Vivian to love and cherish them the way you have described your love for beautiful and heartwarming your relationship was and still is...I love you for being you and for sharing this with us...❤️Sue


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