Venus, oh Venus

Many of you already know that Venus (a.k.a. V, as in Between the Gutter and the Stars) is my first cousin.  This post is about her, but first some background:

My grandmother and grandfather married each other shortly after the birth of Venus’ mother, Beth, whose own mother died shortly after childbirth.  Beth was the youngest of my grandfather’s children.  My mother’s father died when my mom was very young, leaving grandma with 3 children of her own – my mother being the oldest.  Beth’s dad and my mom’s mom married in the late forties, and combined families with their 6 children – a post WWII version of the Brady bunch.  Mother is the oldest and Beth is the youngest of the six.  I subsequently became the first grandchild and since Beth is only 10 years older than me, she became my babysitter.  I worshipped my aunt Beth because she was totally cool.  She was the one who introduced me to American Bandstand and shopping and hiking in the woods.  She took me to her private spot on the creek, a place I thought was unknown to the rest of the world.  I lived for the times when my mother would herd me and my brothers into the station wagon to drive out to the farm to hang out.  This happened pretty often because we only lived about 8 miles away.  When I was about 6 or 8 years old, things started to change.  Beth was, more often than not, chatting on the phone or out on a date when we’d come over – perfectly normal for a teenage girl – but it made me sad that my idol was no longer interested in having her kid neice hanging around.  

Beth married her first husband right after high school and promptly moved to Rhode Island, where her husband was to be stationed, and my favorite aunt was gone from our lives for awhile.  When Beth announced the happy news that she was pregnant, we were all ecstatic and threw her a baby shower from afar.  We brought our presents to my granparent’s farm, wrapped them as a group and sent them off to Rhode Island.  The baby was born in February.  “She’s named the baby Venus.”  My grandmother said, shaking her head in disappointment.  “Venus?  Are you sure?”  everyone asked.  “Looks like it.” grandmother answered, then wondered aloud,  “Where on eath did she get a name like that?”  It was 1967, I was ten years old and an aspiring hippie, and the name Venus sounded perfect to me.   Once again, Beth had proved her general coolness to me. 

Now, if you haven’t figured it out already, Venus and some of my other 12 first cousins are not actually blood relatives to me.  We are step cousins, but don’t really think about it that way.  Our families have been firmly cemented together for so long, we don’t separate ourselves out along bloodlines. Venus and I are ten years apart in age -the same as myself and my aunt Beth – which means that in my teens, I was hired by my aunt to babysit Venus and her younger brother.  Being a lacadasical, music-obsessed babysitter, I paid no attention to my charges but instead spent most of my time spinning the Rightous Brothers and other records on my aunt’s turntable while the kids did God knows what. I was not my Aunt Beth, that’s for sure.

So I don’t confess to remembering much about Venus during her wee childhood. 

When I was 18 and Venus was 8, I moved 3 states away and began my bohemian adulthood.  Venus grew up and married (not sure how old you were V, 18?), and before I knew it she had given birth to three children, all boys, with her first husband.   “I’ve spent my entire adult life pregnant!” I remember her saying once.  And I imagine that’s exactly how it seemed to her.

Fast forward to the late nineties, when V and I went through back-to-back divorces.  The demise of V’s marriage was a shocker to the family, with many thinking Venus was plumb off her rocker to unload such a prince of a guy!  My divorce was not much of a surprise since I’d already ended my previous TWO marriages in divorce.  That was pretty much par for the course for me –  but for V – well, nobody suspected this would ever happen to her.   It was around this time that V and I started sharing things with each other about the secret lives inside our marriages and how bad things had gotten.  We realized we not only had very similar experiences in our marriages, but we had a lot more in common with each other than either of us realized.  We’ve surpassed our cousin relationship and now have a real friendship – once ditching another cousin’s baby shower mid-stream to go to a movie matinee together just because we wanted to.  Two grown women tossing out poorly-made excuses to leave, then running away giggling – and not the least bit sorry we probably stirred up a shitstorm of gossip back at the house. 

Here’s something you may not know about Venus (she’s not a braggart or one to draw attention to herself):  She’s the lead singer in a country band that only does sad songs, and she’s good.  Damn good.  This shy little introvert can get up and belt them out in front of a crowd of people like she’s been doing it her entire life. 

Venus with The Cass County Lamenters (husband Troy on the far left)

Here’s another thing:  Venus finally met and married the love of her life, Troy – the total antithesis of her first husband.  Troy is wonderful and he treats our goddess like gold.  He is wonderful with her children.  He’s kind and gentle and damn good looking.  He plays guitar in her band, and in his own band (Live from Sturgis!  August 11th!  Federation of Horsepower!), and we love him to death.

Venus has become my coolness idol (you didn’t know that, did you?) and is living the life she deserves now.   V, I just want you to know how much I cherish our relationship.  Above and beyond all 12 of the other cousins, you and I connect in a way that is special and meaningful.  And although you used to hate you name, (when she was a teenager she shunned her name because “only one other word in the English language rhymes with it”), I’ve seen you embrace it with a new intensity these days. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your mother knew exactly what she was doing when she named you. You truly are our Venus. Love you, spirit cousin!


13 Responses to “Venus, oh Venus”

  1. 1 V- August 5, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Just when I thought I had full control of my emotions, you’ve got me bawling like a baby on my couch. Thank you, I am deeply touched. I grew up in awe of my bohemien cousin who lived in Austin. In a family where I’ve always felt like the blacksheep, it was always a comfort knowing that you were there. You were definitly on my Coolness Pedestal and still are. You are such a warm, honest, inteligent, strong funny woman, I am very blessed to have you as a cousin and a friend.

    I totally forgot about us ditching Sharon’s shower!! We are so bad.

    I love you to pieces!!

  2. 2 poseidonsmuse August 5, 2007 at 11:38 am

    OB, that was a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing that story with us (I often wondered about your history as cousins). You are truly lucky to have one another too! And – you both scale 20 out of 10 on the coolness factor for me – V for her tenacity and musical talent, and you, OB for your eclectic wit and literary charm. This Goddess community is truly blessed to have both of your influences. Shine on Sisters!

  3. 3 pradapixie August 5, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    That is a lovely post praising and loving your cousin/friend and her mum.
    Judging by V’s response it’s a two way admiration society!
    I wish love and happieness to you both

  4. 4 observantbystander August 5, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Aw, thanks guys. I’ve been wanting to introduce Venus properly to everyone and it makes me very very happy to have her with us. She is really a special woman in so many ways – more than I have written here.

    V – I always considered myself the black sheep. I guess we’re a pair of ’em! May we always hold that position in the family and may we rule with grace and sincerity, and vow never to (totally) give up our black sheep ways.

  5. 5 RubyShooZ August 6, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Aw, thanks for the background and thanks for being you, both you and Venus.

    Y’all seems like wonderful women I’d love to meet.

    Hugs, peace, love and understanding,


    Thanks Roobs!

  6. 6 Simonne August 6, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Oh this is great! I didn’t realise Venus was your real name, Venus! THAT is too cool! You truly are a living Goddess 🙂

    She’s fabulous, isn’t she?

  7. 7 Grace August 6, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Yeah, Cousins!!! 🙂 It’s a pleasure meeting you, V, and thank you, OB, for sharing us with her (Of course, my first question was…how did she meet Prince Charming and does he have any friends in So. California? LOL) 🙂

    I’d also like to thank V for sharing the Personality Disorder Test. Apparently I am The HandRaiser. LOL This got me laughing this morning so hard…just what I needed for a Monday morning! Thanks, Goddesses! xoxox

    Aren’t cousins great? It’s my pleasure to share her (how kinky did that sound?)

  8. 8 V- August 6, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I’m the one who is grateful for OB introducing the Goddesses to me. What a blessing! I may have the name, but you women are the real deal.
    Grace- I wish I had a wonderfully romantic story about meeting Prince Charming – but truth is I met him at a bar…but it was cosmic intervention just the same

  9. 9 poseidonsmuse August 6, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Venus – Aw shucks…! You are the real deal girl…and I bet you sing like an angel too…

    She does! You should hear her do KD Lang.

  10. 10 cynical_sheila August 6, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Yes! She truly is a Goddess among Goddessess!

    She has spoken so glowingly of you, I’m looking forward to meeting you in person.

    She talks about you too. And since you own a record store, I’m even more intrigued! Hope to meet you soon – we’ll have to get V to set something up.

  11. 11 Deb August 6, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    I think there must be something extra special about friends who are also family. Thanks for sharing the stories!

    It’s pretty neat having her in my life. Thanks!

  12. 12 writerchick August 6, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Hey OB,
    She sounds like a great gal. I’m glad you have someone in your life who is so special to you.

    Thanks WC!

  13. 13 Bella August 7, 2007 at 6:50 am

    What a great tribute to a special woman in your life. Thanks for sharing! That is so sweet, what a great way to let her know how much she means to you OB!

    Thanks Bella. She really is a special person.

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