Double cousin, double birthday
I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that it is July. In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’re halfway through 2020, even though the coronavirus seemed to put us in slow motion; at least it did early on in the pandemic. Now it seems like everything and everyone is going full-speed ahead, as if the “re-opening” of many places and activities has been like a race to make up for lost time.
July is one of my favorite months, right after January through June, and there may be more than one reason why I like July. First of all, I became a mom in July, 43 years ago today. That blessed event was supposed to have happened in June, but my son hung in there (sorry, not sorry) for almost two more weeks past the date I had circled on the calendar, just to cook me a little longer in the summer heat that began in February of that year. Secondly, July means we are halfway to Christmas, which is the most wonderful time of the year. And the fact that my birthday falls in July tends to make the month special, too — especially since I am still around to celebrate the day.
I’m pretty sure I’ve written in this space before that I had a cousin born on the same day as me. I was less than 30 minutes older than him. Ronald Kent Bachman was born in Topeka the same day Nancy Elaine Goertzen was born in Newton. The two of us have been close all our lives as we shared that common bond of a common birth day. We celebrated together many times, especially when we were younger, and we never missed a year of exchanging birthday cards. I have many pictures of the two of us, but one of my favorites is with our great-grandfather Wedel holding the two of us shortly after we were born. That picture was circulated on the Associated Press, and I have the newspaper clipping to prove it. It must have been a slow news day.
From Day One, Ron was always a much smaller child than me, and I was (and still am) a butterball. It was never difficult to tell us apart. The really cool thing is, not only were we born on the same day, but we were double cousins: my dad and his mother were brother and sister, and his dad and my mother were brother and sister. We had double grandparents, double uncles, double aunts, and double cousins.
When we graduated high school in 1972 — he from Hesston High School and I from Goessel — Ron and my boyfriend, Bob (whom I married a year later), lived together in Wichita and attended Climate Control Institute for training and certification in plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Upon graduation, Ron went to work for Reimer’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Hesston. I was working in Hesston, also, at the time, but my boyfriend took a job with the large Troug-Nichols firm in Kansas City. Bob didn’t like the big city one bit and didn’t stay there long as he moved back home (he missed me) and soon had an opportunity to work for an HVAC business in Goessel. We got married and lived just outside of Goessel.
Long story short, Bob soon came to the realization that he did not enjoy his work with plumbing, heating and air conditioning — working in stifling hot, insulated attics and creepy crawl spaces — so he quit the profession. But cousin Ron continued to work for Reimer’s and years later, had the opportunity to buy the business when the owners retired. Soon after, it became Bachman Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.
Fast forward through many years of babies being born, grandparents dying, and life-altering occupations for both Bob and me, and Ron continued to thrive in the work that he was cut out to do until February 13, 2018, when Ron had a massive heart attack and left me to celebrate our birthday on my own.
I never will enjoy the day as much without him. Even though we rarely saw each other that day, it was fun to search high and low for just the “perfect” birthday card to send to each other. I am so grateful for the chance to know him and love him, twice as much as my other cousins.
Although “Our Day” has never been the same since his untimely death, I continue to celebrate, and I still look at birthday cards, searching for just the right one that I don’t get to send. Never pass up an opportunity to send a birthday card to a family member or a dear friend, for you never know just how long you will have that privilege.