Cousin John
Monday January 06th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

John sent me this selfie, looking up, and it took me awhile to figure out what seemed so odd about it: it’s that I always saw my 6’7″ cousin from well below. The perspective was so different.

His father had Parkinson’s with dementia and his mother was becoming frail; he took them into his own home, and when it became clear that that was a full time job now he quit his to take care of them.

He never married, but his father is why my parents met: our dads served Mormon missions together across French-speaking Europe right after the war. Dad later went to Utah to go visit his close friend David, and David’s little sister heard an unfamiliar voice across the house and ran a few steps back to her room to dress in something nicer and then Mom came back out and met Dad.

Uncle David and Aunt Bonnie met playing in the symphony together, so music was an important part of their and their childrens’ lives. John played piano and French horn.

Uncle David died a few years ago; one year ago, I flew into town for Aunt Bonnie’s funeral.

Everybody wanted to thank John for all that he’d done for them and everybody wanted to rally around him in his loss–what do you do when everything is different now.

He wasn’t one to say much. But if you talked to him you knew he loved you. Period. Everybody. I just got off the phone with my older son who said, Yes, I saw him at Grampa’s funeral in October and we talked for several minutes and he was just the nicest guy.

John mentioned to me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool, although, other fibers seemed fine.

There was a cousins-only get-together after the service, a reunion for our generation. I asked John when it seemed a good moment for it if we could step into the other room where the noise level wasn’t quite so bad for my hearing.

He, a bit quizzically, followed me over there.

He nearly cried when I pulled out a keyboard for his head. Baby alpaca, silk, cashmere: no wool. I’d remembered. He was intensely grateful at being thought of, at being seen. He exclaimed in the rawness of his loss, “She was my best friend!” We held each other and I wished I could make it better.

I had no idea from where I lived that that fog of grief never lifted for him and that the depression was spiraling him so far downward. I would have done anything, we all would have. I was stunned when my brother called with the news today. It is unfathomable that my beloved cousin John, the one whose kindness and empathy were why I named my son after him in hopes of raising a man as good as he was, is gone from us.

He had lost how to love himself as much as he loved each of us.

I am gutted.

12 Comments so far
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I am so sorry for you, and the rest of your family. Hugs.

Comment by Anne 01.07.20 @ 1:03 am

Oh, I am so sorry. I remember when you made him that hat, and how grateful he was to be seen in that time of confusion and loss.

Comment by Pegi F 01.07.20 @ 3:50 am

Oh, Alison, I am so very sorry.

Comment by ccr in MA 01.07.20 @ 6:40 am

I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

I wish I could hug you. All of you who loved him and were loved by him.

Sending a prayer your way. I wish I could do more…

Comment by Suzanne in Montreal 01.07.20 @ 7:05 am

I’m so sorry that you and your family lost an amazing sounding man too soon.
Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

Comment by Susan Schutz 01.07.20 @ 7:14 am

Those with the gentlest of souls sometimes just can’t tolerate being here. There are no words to ease your suffering…just know that you are loved and have the support of so many.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 01.07.20 @ 8:05 am

May the happy memories of your dear wonderful cousin help ease your sorrow. I’m so very sorry.

Comment by DebbieR 01.07.20 @ 8:29 am

And his goodness and light will stay alive in your memory and words, and in the actions of your son, his namesake.

Comment by Holly 01.07.20 @ 9:57 am

You know how sorry I am and why I continue to do the “Out of the Darkness” walks every year.It is the only way I can cope.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 01.07.20 @ 10:16 am

Oh, Alison, I am so very sorry.

Comment by Nancy G 01.07.20 @ 12:33 pm

Oh man. I am sorry. How awful and sad. Sending you a hug. May his memory be for a blessing.

Comment by Joanne 01.07.20 @ 5:50 pm

Sorry doesn’t seem like enough to say, but it is all there is. I hope you find the peace he was seeking. Hugs from far away.

Comment by Lisa 01.08.20 @ 5:57 pm

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