Cousin Jenny

May 6, 2003


A Best Buddy's Memories of her Little Missy

Besides being Olivia's cousin and babysitter, I was also one of her best buddies. I would watch Olivia almost on a daily basis while I was attending college at Cleveland State University and also after I was done and working full-time.

I feel very fortunate and lucky now that I had that time with her. Lyndi told me a couple weeks ago that I was the big sister Olivia never had and that makes me feel very proud since she was such a special little girl. The following are things that I remember about Olivia. I have been trying very hard to remember so that I can share these memories with Gary, Lyndi, family and friends.

I have many sweet memories of Olivia, perhaps two of my favorites are these: when Olivia would hug you, she would pat your back. I always thought this was the cutest thing. She would do it even if she was sad or tired, like she wanted to make sure you were ok.

One of the others is when she was very young and also very sleepy. I would hold her either on the couch or in her rocker and she would almost be asleep. I would get up to lay her down and she would kind of wake up. I could never lay her down to sleep if I thought she wasn't ready to go, so sometimes I would lay on the couch with her sleeping on me, very peaceful and happy.

I also helped to teach her the joys of chocolate and sticking out her tongue. I remember her first Halloween, I was helping Lyndi watch Olivia and pass out candy. Olivia was dressed up like a pumpkin and loved looking at the kids who came to the door dressed up in their costumes. She got so excited when the doorbell rang! She didn't know what candy and chocolate was then, but by the next Halloween, I had to hide the big bowl of candy that Gary and Lyndi had on the dining room table. I gave her a Hershey's Kiss one day and she said "mmmm chocolate"! I thought that was the cutest thing! And she didn't chew her kiss, she sucked on it and her mouth got all chocolaty! Sometimes I would stick my tongue out her and she would do it back. I think she probably continued doing it after I would leave too!

While watching Olivia, we always played with her toys or read her books. I remember she would sit for almost an hour and just put her blocks (which were different shapes) in the correct holes, then she would dump them out and do it all over again! She also especially loved her monkey and doggy and cloth baby. Every time someone would hand them to her she would hug them-very sweet! She also liked playing on her laptop computer (the Winnie the Pooh game). She was the only 2 year old I have ever seen who knew what a mouse and computer was! We would also always look at the pictures on the refrigerator. She really liked when you would point at them and she could tell you who they were. She also liked looking at the calendar of all the dogs that looked like "Moosey" and she especially liked looking in the mirror when you were holding her and also looking at all her pretty things on her dresser and also all of her money! She also enjoyed playing with her magnets, which were just close enough to the floor that she could reach them, pull them off and put them back on again.

Olivia had a hard time beginning and learning how to walk. One of my happy and proud memories of her was when she finally worked so hard and got the strength to walk. One day I was watching her and we were outside playing on her new swing set (which she also loved). After we were done swinging, she wanted to walk. So we walked from the backyard to the front yard, with her holding my fingers and me walking behind her. She loved it! We must have walked around the house and up and down the sidewalk fifty times! We would stop and sit on the steps by the sidewalk and play with the leaves (more like pick them up and crush them if it was fall), then walk up the steps to the front of the house and sit there, then walk back and do it all over again! Once she started walking, she loved it. You could tell, she was very happy and proud of herself! Besides swinging and walking, while outside she also loved being pulled in her big, red wagon. If it were spring or summer, we would walk up and down the sidewalk and back by the garage. I would pick her flowers as we walked and she would hold onto them. She always brought her sunglasses and a hat and sometimes we brought her blanket if it was a little cold. My arms would be really tired after awhile, but she would want to keep going, so we would! She loved the wagon, she was always so happy while she was in it!

When Olivia got a little older we discovered that she loved chips and salsa. One day when I was over, I was eating chips and guacamole and she wanted to try some-wouldn't you know that she loved that too! Gary and Lyndi always fixed her very healthy foods. I don't like fish, so when Olivia would eat salmon, I always wondered how she could eat it! I mean, what kid do you know that likes guacamole and salmon?!!

I moved to South Carolina in July of last year and Olivia was one of the hardest things to leave. So every time I came up to visit, I always tried to spend as much time with her as I could. Last Christmas, she discovered the joy of presents and the Christmas tree! I came for a visit a couple days after Christmas. My boyfriend Brian was with me, and these are some cute memories he has of Olivia too. One day when we were over visiting with Gary, Lyndi and Olivia, we were sitting on the couch and Olivia was drawing at her new easel. She drew a big circle and a little circle, got Brian's attention and proceeded to point and tell him about the "mommy circle" and "baby circle". It was just the cutest thing and Brian was very impressed! Gary and Lyndi had just taken the Christmas tree down so she also kept telling us "Christmas tree all gone" and she would put her hands up like she didn't know where it went! Another cute memory is our last trip to Cleveland at the beginning of April, which I now feel very happy and fortunate that I was able take, since it was the last time I saw Olivia. She was not feeling well pretty much the whole time we were up there. We were over at Uncle Greg's house and it was getting a little late but she was just beginning to feel a little better. We were sitting at the table having some cake for Grandma's birthday and she decided she would have some. Gary was feeding it to her and she decided he was making the bites too big. She would wave her little hand and say "too big daddy". Afterwards, we were sitting in the living room and she was playing with my camera. Gary or Lyndi asked if she was going to take a picture of Jenny and she said "and Brian too". He thought that was so cute!

Also during that visit, we (Lyndi, Olivia and myself) took Gary to the airport - "daddy works computers" which is what Olivia told me before we left! Lyndi drove me past Hathaway Brown (the preschool Olivia was accepted to) and also to where Olivia went to music class, at the Music School Settlement. She was supposed to have gone to class that day, but didn't since she had a cold and wasn't feeling well. But as we were driving past, she kept saying, "come sing with me mommy", she loved going there and singing! After we had gotten back from our drive and she woke up from her nap, we were playing with the Winnie the Pooh coloring book I had gotten her for Easter. There were bees on the back and I asked her what they were and she told me "bees" and then took her little hand and went "bzzzzzzzzzz"! Because that is one of my happiest and last memories of her, I am going to get a little bee tattoo with Olivia's initials, so that I can always remember what a special little girl she was!

I will write more as I remember it. I think it's an awesome idea to do this, to help us all remember and to keep Olivia's memory alive. She was the sweetest little girl I've ever known and I miss her so much, but remembering the good times will help us all through.

Cheers and Blessings to Gary and Lyndi.

Love Olivia's Best Buddy,


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