Chapter 17 1959 - Adrian and Osgood

Adrian didn’t even know he had a cousin Osgood until a few weeks ago. While he didn’t fully understand, Adrian’s uncle Sam only recently began visiting Buddy and would often bring Osgood over to play. The young cousins could not be more different. Though only six years old, they were beginning to develop characteristics that would likely shape their later lives.

Adrian was much taller than Osgood, and a maybe a little “husky” as folks were prone to say. Osgood, on the other hand, was shorter than average and tended to whine a bit when he spoke. Adrian played ball with his father, at least when he was home, and liked to sport a Giants cap, honoring the team that was about to kick off its second season in California. Osgood liked to push Angela around in her stroller, and play dolls with her. Osgood liked his little cousin and couldn’t understand it when his grandmother would tell him, “She’s not your cousin!”

With Buddy being a musician, it wasn’t unusual to have a variety of musical instruments around the house. Adrian was drawn to some bongos that his dad had occasionally played with and Osgood would bang on the piano. Annette liked Elvis Presley, and even though he was now away in the Army, she liked to play his records. Adrian and Osgood would play along.

When Sam first called up Buddy after several years’ absence, Buddy was suspicious. Why now? What’s going on? he wondered. Sam asked to come over to talk, and brought Osgood with him.

“Hey, Sam,” Buddy greeted him at the door. “Long time, no see.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sam admitted. “You’re a hard man to catch home, sometimes.”

“I guess that’s true, Sam,” he confessed, “and when I am home, I like to spend as much time as I can with the family.”

“I’m family, Buddy. Right?”

Buddy was a bit embarrassed at the implicit accusation. “Of course, Sam. Of course.”

“Well, I guess I haven’t made that much of an effort since Debbie’s funeral.”

“So why now? Buddy inquired.

“It’s Mom,” Sam related. “Well, my Mom. I guess she’s not really your mother-in-law any more.”

“Well, that’s true. But after years of neglect, I’m curious why she’s suddenly taken up such an interest in Adrian.”

Sam lowered his voice conspiratorially, “It’s because of Annette and Angela.”

Buddy eyes widened, with an edge of anger, “What do you mean?”

“Last year Mom began to dwell on old pictures of Debbie, and nearly had a breakdown over it. She spent a lot of time crying and Dad was no help at all.”

“I know what I felt when Debbie died,” Buddy said. “But I guess I can’t understand what she went through.”

“Anyway, she’s jealous of Annette,“ Sam continued. “She resents the fact that Adrian looks at her as his mother, and Angela is a casualty of that perspective.”

“That explains a lot about her sudden interest in him. But he’s almost afraid of her. She comes on too strong, at times.”

“I know my mother, and I can’t say I disagree.”

“OK, so I can see her renewed interest. Is that why you’re here?” Buddy pressed.

“She did ask me to be more of a presence, but she didn’t really have to. I’ve wanted to reestablish our friendship for a long time. Our estrangement didn’t affect only us. I haven’t spoken to Henry for years either, I was hoping the three us could become friends again.”

“You know, Sam,” Buddy composed his thoughts. “I could go for that. C’mon down to the Stomping Grounds. I’ll call Henry and see if he can join us.”

Annette was a bit hesitant when Buddy told her he was leaving for the Stomping Grounds, and that Adrian’s cousin Osgood would be staying to play. Angela was an active two year old and Adrian and Angela together were even more of a handful. Adding a third child to the mix was going to be worse.

To her surprise, Osgood was a model child, and enjoyed playing with Angela. Maybe this was a good thing, after all.