Remembering Julie Belle

My cousin Julie Belle passed away a couple of days ago.  Her daughters Lisa and Tiffany asked me to send them some thoughts about their mom to be used for the memorial service this Saturday.  When I learned of her passing on Monday I wasn’t sure if I wanted to create a post about it.  Now that my cousins requested some stories about her I thought I may as well share:

As a teenager I spent my summers at Highland Beach in Annapolis, MD with my cousins Lisa, Tiffany and Andrea.   I was always fond of the quaint, quiet beach atmosphere this community offered.  It was a place where we could explore and have some young adult freedoms, even though we knew our elder relatives weren’t too far away to keep us in line.  The summers when I stayed at Julie’s beach house I was forced to watch CBS soap operas, which was challenging for me at first since I grew up watching ABC soaps.  Quickly I was addicted to The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, As the World Turns and Guiding Light all thanks to Julie.

My summertime visits continued throughout my 20s.  The summer I turned 20 in 1990 was the first summer Julie’s first-born grandchild Melita spent at the beach; she was 4-5 months old.  I remember sitting on the front stoop holding her and commenting on the birds chirping but noticing that Melita’s eyes wouldn’t react to noises that were happening around us.  I am not sure the exact chain of events that day or weekend, but I know Julie, Tiffany and I put Melita in the car and I drove us to Philadelphia in record time in order to get Melita to see her doctor to get her hearing checked.  I’ve been known to have a lead foot and Julie was always known to drive slower than the speed of a golf cart.  For years Julie would tell the story about how I drove like a bat out of hell to get her grandbaby to the doctor.  I was glad to help and I loved hearing how appreciative Julie was.  The enthusiasm in her story telling was always engaging.

A lot of my after Labor Day/Indian Summer Highland Beach visits were just Julie and I.  We’d play scrabble, do puzzles, and sit on the porch for hours talking about anything and everything.  Sometimes we’d venture out and go to the WaWa, the seafood market and go to Outback Steakhouse because she loved their Bloomin’ Onion.  I remember the day she realized she developed a seafood allergy and couldn’t have crab anymore.  I knew how devastating that was for her.  We mourned her loss together.

One evening in particular stands out like a sore thumb.  It was the night Princess Diana was killed.  It was August 31, 1997.  We sat in amazement at what had just transpired.  It’s one of those historical moments when people could ask you where were you when such and such happened.  I will always be able to say I was with my cousin Julie at Highland Beach sitting in rocking chairs on the porch.

Now I envision Julie in Heaven sitting in a rocking chair drinking a Pepsi while eating a seafood platter full of fresh crabmeat.  She has asked Princess Diana to join her for a good game of scrabble, but little does the Princess know she doesn’t stand a chance against my cousin.  No one did.  What an opponent she was.  I will always cherish those games and the times we spent together.  She will be missed.

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