To Paul, With Love and Regret

My cousin, Stephen Paul Maslen, was born on January 7, 1953, just 7 months before I was.  He died of an accidental drowning on December 28, 2014.  Our lives intersected growing up with summers at Lake Dunmore, Vermont and other visits.  My family was there when his mother passed away when we were teens.  As a child I idolized Paul, even though he teased me about being afraid of insects.

Paul and me age 5ish

Our summers were filled with overlapping vacations at our grandparents’ cabin at Lake Dunmore, Vermont.  Summers at Lake Dunmore were the happiest times of my childhood.  His father was like my father.  He and his siblings, like my siblings.

lake dunmore the kids

Paul was my age and it never occurred to me that we wouldn’t grow old at the same time.  His death was such a shock and a tragedy.  But in addition to being filled with grief, I’m filled with regret.  Regret for the separation as our lives went down different paths.  Regret for being satisfied with the updates from my uncle.  Regret for missing all the opportunities where he could tease me about still being afraid of bugs.

Paul and us with van I’m left with fabulous memories of a cousin who was like a brother, until he became more like a cousin, until he became more like a stranger with shared memories of childhood but almost no personal memories of adulthood. I’m left with regret, most of all, for not realizing that this change from being close to almost being strangers was happening.

Paul was, to quote my cousins, “a woodsman, a philosopher, a lover of books and music.  A father completely devoted to his children.”  His children are his legacy.  His impact on forestry in Maryland is his legacy.  But his legacy to me is that I will not let this happen again.  The close bond of blood and friendship with my cousins, his siblings, is strong again and will be so forever.

Stephen Paul Maslen gave me the gift of childhood and teenage camaraderie, and the realization that we must stay close to those we love.  Lots of love, no more regrets for the future.  Thank you Paul.  I love you and miss you, and I still don’t like bugs.

paul lake dunmore

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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22 Responses to To Paul, With Love and Regret

  1. Wow. What a beautiful tribute. And those photos are wonderful. It is thanksgiving weekend up here in Canada and your post very much fits in with this theme.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Glazed says:

    It’s very easy to grow apart from our relatives, as we grow older. We spend less time with them, and we develop different interests. I think it’s normal, but it’s also sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I hope to heed my own words and reconnect with other family members from whom I have grown apart. You are right, interests change, but in this case they really didn’t change. We both probably just got involved with our own lives and let the relationship go its own path. I don’t want this to happen with other relationships.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this! Makes me think about all my relationships that might be going the way of regret … 😚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I realized that as well, as I was writing this. My sense of regret and then happiness that I’ve reconnected with his siblings has to expand out to other relationships. Especially family. Thank you for reading this and commenting. Your opinion matters greatly to me.


  4. George says:

    Great post and tribute to your cousin, Barb. Unfortunately this is a story that has happened too often in most of our lives. This is a great reminder that in the case of those we love or care about, live should never get in the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. peckapalooza says:

    This is a beautiful tribute. Very touching and a great reminder to make the most of our relationships.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This s truly an excellent tribute to your cousin. It will make many people think about and possibly reconsider the relationships they currently have.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Garfield Hug says:

    A fitting tribute to a great man who impacted your life. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joseph Nebus says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

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