My cousin Vincent Ivey and I were born about six months apart; his birthday in January of 1957 and mine in June of the same year. He left this earth on Thankgiving 1992 and I still miss him like mad. Vincent was my best friend, my partner in crime, my disco dance partner and a loving cousin for so many years. No one made me laugh like Vincent–that boy had a wicked wit. Maureen, one of my favorite songs by Sade makes me think of him.
You were my best friend
I’m never going to see you again, maureen
And you’ll never meet my new friends
You really were a pearl in my world, maureen
My earliest, fondest memories of Vince was when we were about 10 years old and playing TV characters at his house in Fresno, California with our expansive group of cousins. All heck broke out when Vince claimed he wanted to be Jeannie, as in I Dream of Jeannie. That was 1967, and of course, it was utterly ridiculous to think that a boy would want to play Jeannie. An argument ensued, and he won. He did that Jeannie in a bottle move better than I could, even in my prime.
We both spent our teenage years in Northen California--he in Petaluma, me in Santa Rosa. That 20 minute ride didn’t keep us apart. Weekends we were sneaking into clubs and dancing until the wee hours. During his college years at San Francisco State, Vince worked for IBM servicing Selectric typewriters with a private territory in Marin County. His clients loved him so much, that he could drop in on a whim. And he did just that–he took me to one of his clients homes show me one of the most beautiful views of San Francisco from their living room in Tiburon. And we ended up having lunch…
Fast forward to 1977. I was in a tragic car accident. After seeing Earth, Wind and Fire, my girlfriend and I were traveling home (Santa Rosa) on December 17 and met with the rear end of a van that ran out of gas on Highway 1 in Marin County. I pretty much broke up everything in my body. That led to an almost four-month stint in the hospital. Vincent visited me almost everyday. I mean everyday. After putting in hours in school, at work, he would drive to see me at Santa Rosa General Hospital. It would be late, much after visiting hours, but the nurses always welcomed him. I think they looked forward to his visits even more than I did. And he was never empty-handed. From home movies, to cakes, to board games, Vince was there to brighten my day.
Later, we both worked at a family owned nightclub in Jack London Square, Oakland. And we still managed to get our dance on while working…
Vincent was FINE, extremely handsome, and always had the prettiest girlfriends. One day the girls disappeared and so did Vince. He was embarrassed to “come out” to our family. Eventually he let me in on that secret that I had figured out long before he told me. (That Jeannie thing was a sure fire clue.) It didn’t change a thing between us. He stayed my best friend.
The man was vain. Early balding runs in our family. So, naturally Vince rocked a curly weave with style. I don’t think he know about tightening up that thing on a regular basis though. When our little cousins saw it move on his head, they screamed “It’s a wig!” and took off running. One of the funniest moments ever. I suppose it’s one of those “you had to be there things.”
I had my share of troubles in my 20s, and Vince was there for me. I sometimes feel like I wasn’t there as fully as I could have been for him. He was HIV positive, and his life changed, but I didn’t know it yet. I couldn’t figure out why he quit he cush job with Business Week. (I’m talking a job that you only have to report into to office quarterly.) Why he was trying to be discovered on Star Search. Why he started a recording career. It was all so strange. Nonetheless, Vince continued to support me. I remember him visiting when I was a new mom with my first child; we were around 33. We hadn’t “hung out” in years, but nothing had changed. It was the best visit.
Shortly thereafter he acquired AIDS. And sadly, it was the early 90s and he was in a that group of men that died quickly. Let me tell you this though, he died looking gorgeous. His skin was in impeccable condition due to his religious use of luxury moisturizer. It was Thankgiving 1992 when I got that call, he was gone. I dread that day. It precedes Christmas, which I don’t celebrate, but I always received the most precious call on Christmas morning from Vincent.
He would call me and sing Merry Christmas Baby, by Charles Brown, in the most drunken, lecherous voice he could muster up. And I would laugh like it was the first time every year. I haven’t had that call in 21 years.
But, I do believe that I will see Vincent again. I will see him healthy and beautiful and vibrant. It’s my hope. And I look forward to the day when AIDS and other horrific diseases, death and pain will be no more. Revelation 21:3,4.
3 With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.+ 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes,+ and death will be no more,+ neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.+ The former things have passed away.”