Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Cousin Once Removed

I had planned to attend a funeral today in Las Vegas. I booked an airline ticket, a hotel room, packed a bag. But Dylan has been sick, and Rhonda came down with the same bug the day before yesterday. So, I'm staying home.

Jonathon was twenty years old. I hadn't seen his mom since I was a teenager and she was a small child. Jonathon is the grandson of Gary, the several-years-younger brother of my dad. Gary used to take me shooting when I was a kid. I'm six-four and some change, and I look up at Gary, who claims he's six-seven but appears at least an inch taller.

My dad was one of eight kids, my mom one of six. I have a lot of cousins, especially considering that most of my cousins have kids, those "first cousins once removed." I think of the days when both sets of grandparents were alive. We'd have big family gatherings and I'd catch up with the lives of my first and second cousins. We'd watch the adults laugh, and some of the younger aunts and uncles would play with us.

My extended family is spread around the country nowadays, as is the case with so many families. Only weddings or funerals prompt family gatherings of any size.

I never met my cousin Jonathon, the son of my cousin Leigh Ann, who was so doggone cute as a little kid that it hurt to look at her. I only know him by what I've heard and read.

He was a child who always loved working with his hands, be it making music, creating art, or building something. He was a quiet guy who didn't seek the limelight, and a loyal friend. He seemed one of those people who could put friends in a better mood with his presence. He seemed one of those people who left more in this life than he took.

I never met Jonathon, but I'll never forget him. I wish I could stand close to his grandfather and his parents and his siblings today as he's laid to rest, but I can't. But, there are other ways to say goodbye. There are other ways to remember. I'll remember Jonathon, my twenty year-old cousin who lost his life in a car accident, and I'll do my best to celebrate his life.


Kelly said...

I truly sorry for your loss, Hal.

Hope Dylan and Rhonda are both feeling better soon, too. (and that you don't get it)

Pam said...

What a wonderful post, Hal. I'm sorry for your loss, also.

Here's wishing Dylan and Rhonda are back on their feet soon! Yep, like Kelly, hope your bypass the bug!

I've taught almost every day since school started in one elementary school. The amount of coughing and runny noses is not encouraging. The schools are already a hotbed of germs!

So far, I've avoided snagging any of them! :)

Debby said...

Very nice post, Hal.

Annie said...

A wonderful post of tribute to this young man, and your whole family. I'm very sorry for your loss.

I really hope Rhonda and Dylan return to health quickly. There are some nasty bugs travelling around right now.

Bob Barbanes said...

As saddened by death as we are, we cannot focus on it but rather, it must be countered by birth, the reaffirmation of life! So sorry you had to say good-bye to Jonathon. But let us say hello to Redlefty's (and Refwifey's) new baby! The cycle continues.

Hope the family is feeling better.

Be well, man.

Bob said...

So sad, but you have a good perspective, to celebrate his life. I bet that would please him.

quid said...

How very sad for the family, Hal. Hope your immediate family is well soon and enjoyed hearing about your wide-spread family.

I had 70 cousins. Amazingly enough, 3 of us live outside of Minnesota. The rest somehow got trapped in the land of Michelle Bachmann.