My cousin Howard and I, during the summer of 1973. Two cool guys!
Remembering My Cousin, Howard Palmer
By Richard Mabey Jr.
During this Christmas season, I find myself feeling this strange and eerie feeling of being homesick. Of dearly missing those who have gone Home to be with the Lord. These are the days of hard work. Presently, I am working the old Security Guard routine. In addition, my sister Patti and I are presently walking four dogs, while their owners are away visiting family. Then, of course, there is the tireless effort that I devote to writing my book and seeking a publisher. Life gets tough at times.
Today, I thought a lot about my dear cousin Howard Palmer. Howard and I were both born in September. I was born in 1953. Howard was born in 1954. In many ways, Howard was my best friend growing up. Sadly, Howard went Home to be with the Lord in January of 1974. I still miss him dearly.
Howard had muscular dystrophy and was confined to a wheelchair nearly all of his life. I think that Howard was about seven years old when he needed the wheelchair. Prior to that he could walk a little bit, but it was very sad because he would fall down a lot.
Howard and I used to watch the kids play baseball and kickball in Earl’s Meadow at the old Mabey Homestead. We would drink lemonade and eat a few chocolate chip cookies and catch up on the latest adventures of Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and a whole host of superheroes. While we read comic books, we would listen to my little red transistor radio. It would be set on the old 77-WABC AM radio. Cousin Brucie was our favorite DJ. It was the days of Herman’s Hermits, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Beatles, The Young Rascals and a long list of one-hit wonders. It was a great time to be a kid.
I had an H-O slot car setup in the basement. Sometimes, Howard and I would spend a couple of hours racing the little slot cars. Howard loved that. We always had a blast racing the little cars.
Howard was very smart. I think that he was a genius. He was an incredibly talented artist. He could paint beautiful landscape paintings. He was also very talented at drawing and sketching. I think that Howard could have gone on Jeopardy and come home with a million dollars. He was simply that intelligent.
When we were very young, between the ages of six and nine, we would often play with the little soldiers. And then of course, there was the Operation Moon Base set up that I had. It was ultra-cool. I had gotten it for Christmas when I was in the fourth grade. It had spring loaded missiles that shot up in the air. It had a whole array of astronauts and little green men. It had this very cool radar set up. I remember so very well, how much Howard loved to play with the old Moon Base set.
I miss Howard very much. I miss him more during the Christmas season for some reason. I missed him a lot today. I thought about him so very much, all throughout the day. How sad it is that he lived only a short time. Howard was 19 when he went Home to be with the Lord.
I’m not kidding. I’d put my right hand on a table and let someone cut off one of my fingers, to just be able to see Howard just one more time again. To race the little H-O slot cars again. To hear Cousin Brucie say “chime time.” To sit beneath the big maple tree, drink lemonade on a hot summer afternoon and eat chocolate chip cookies. To see Howard diligently work on one of his paintings.
Howard was a wonderful cousin. He was the best friend a guy could ever want. I miss him. O dear Lord, how I miss him so. From earth to Heaven’s Gate, Merry Christmas Howard!