She sent our brother ahead of her by one year to live with me and complete his parochial high school years in a different part of the country. LAVERNE & SHIRLEY started in Milwaukee and then relocated to Los Angeles. Our single parent black family did just the opposite. Also, despite all her sophistication and education, Mom relocated without a plan. Without a job lined up and without a place to live. My sister had her own apartment. Mom said to her, "I can live with you." This caused my sweet sister to walk around with a facial expression that said "I wish I could smoke a joint the size of a kayak."
I got myself to New York City. Two years after I got there, I had my own celebrity talk show on VH1 and daily on-air segments as a veejay. I loved that job. What a great opportunity it was. A dream come true. I was interviewing the quality of notables you saw with Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin and David Frost. Also, the money helped. Mom got a house in Milwaukee but she didn't have a job and didn't keep up the monthly payments. A few months after I arrived in New York City for my first job, I assumed the mortgage on her house. I always needed a side gig so I could play my rent and her housenote. By the time I was on VH1, I had not seen my cousin in about 20 years.
One day, I told a funny childhood memory story about him on VH1. A few days later, I got a FedEx envelope containing family photos I'd never seen. They were from my cousin.
The day that VH1 segment aired, he happened to be on vacation in Hawaii and had the TV on in the background in his room. He heard the story, it sounded familiar and he raced over to the screen to watch. Then he called his mother back in L.A. and asked her "What kind of work does Cousin Bobby do?" He realized it was me on TV, he got the VH1 address and sent me fabulous photos. That was in the late 1980s. We've not been out of touch since.
If he had not followed his heart's occupational desire, he would not have been in a fellow employee's condo in Hawaii on vacation. I'd followed my heart's occupational desire and was on national TV talking about the cousin I'd not seen in a long, long time. Think about it. Like my sister, he always makes me feel that I'm a significant part of his life...like he is in mine.
I know. That's some wacky family history. My message? Follow your heart. Be kind. Let loved ones know that they're loved. That does not cost a thing. Happy Thanksgiving. Here's a holiday tune written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby. Save me some turkey.