My Conkeydoodle by
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My Conkeydoodle 

I’ve had many loving family relationships,  and one of them was with Conkeydoodle.   (See Call Me by Their Names)

Conkeydoodle’s father Jack and my father Arthur were first cousins,  so I guess that made me and Conkey second cousins – or maybe first cousins once removed,  we never could quite figure that out.  But Conkey was 11 years my senior and had been my babysitter at times,  and so actually she felt more like a big sister to me.

Of course her name wasn’t really Conkeydoodle but Esther,  and we’d laugh over the fact that neither of us could remember how I gave her that nickname in the first place.   But it stuck and over the years she remained  “my Conkeydoodle”,  and she always signed cards and letters,   and later emails to me as “Conkey”.

But when she started college,  then went to grad school in Massachusetts,  and then married Ed and settled in California,  we saw each other seldom.   But when their daughter Anya came east to Columbia’s journalism school,  and was living in Brooklyn for a few years,  Conkey and Ed visited New York often and we saw them whenever we could.   And over the years we visited them in their beautiful house in Berkeley and celebrated with them there at Anya’s wedding.

Conkey was a therapist and I’m sure was an excellent one –  she was gentle,  wise and empathetic.

Then one day Conkey called with the awful news she’d been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.  I flew out to see her and spent an afternoon at her bedside,  her devoted dog Ziggy lying on the quilt at her feet.

Soon after I got back to New York we got the tragic news that my cousin had died leaving those of us who loved her bereft.

And now my beloved Conkeydoodle,  your memory will forever be a blessing.

Danny,  Conkey,  Me and Ed  / Berkeley, CA 2013

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Cousins
Characterizations: been there, moving, well written


  1. Jim Willis says:

    I’ve seen a lot of family nicknames, but Conkeydoodle takes the cake, Dana! It’s obvious you loved her a great deal, and I can see why. It’s great to have cousins who become more like sisters or brothers. I had one like that (his name was Bob). We waited until we were close to 50 to really discover and connect with each other. For a time, like brothers. Sadly, like Conkey, he left us too soon about five years ago.

    • Thanx Jim, I’m glad to hear of your close relationship with Bob, and sorry that like my Conkeydoodle he died too soon. And hoping you and your sons make more time to be together.

      I’ve written about my sister and her untimely death, and just this week about my estrangement from her husband.

      I loved her and was her guardian during her final illness, but we were never close – 10 years and worlds apart in temperament and personality.

      It’s all so complicated, isn’t it!

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