Earlier this week I flew to Southern California for a few days to join family and say goodbye to someone very dear to me. My cousin, Mr. A., has been a special part of my family – and a dear friend. He was like a brother to me. We had many adventures as we grew up and there were tales to tell whenever we were together. He was a very talented artist. Plans were in the works for him to retire later this year so he could pursue his passion and share his talent with others – something he had done in the past. He planned for his retirement years to be spent not far from my sweetheart and I and we had begun to dream of more adventures than we ever dreamed possible together.
A few months ago Mr. A. spent his vacation with us. His stay was sweet – almost two weeks of time to share things we enjoyed and a chance to take him to places we love. He and I sat and shared for hours – our hopes, our joys, our dreams – and we made plans for his return for vacation just a few weeks from now. During that time he was going to look for a retirement home. We ‘talked’ by email almost every day - sometimes several times a day. He was a rock, a source of strength when life felt like it was falling apart. His words often seemed profound, yet his incredible sense of humor came through just when I needed a laugh more than anything else. He was an avid reader of this blog - he always longed to join me on the adventures I shared here. He often sent an email asking me to ‘put that on the list’ of things he wanted to do when he came to Oregon. His passing was sudden. Unexpected. And hard to comprehend. But he leaves behind people who loved him more than he ever knew and a rich legacy no one else could give. He was a private person. Because of that I have chosen not to share his photo here – he would have hated that! I have chosen to share a bit of Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, a place he loved the moment he saw it when we spent a day there together late last summer. He and I planned to go back again this spring to explore every nook and cranny open to the public. He ‘found’ things there I had never seen in previous visits to the lodge. I saw Timberline Lodge in new ways. The artist in him taught me to look at the artwork in ways I will never forget. I miss Mr. A. more than words can say. He was more than a cousin. He was a soul-mate - a kindred spirit. His spirit and legacy lives on. He had no idea how many lives he touched deeply or the difference he brought to their worlds. He left behind something special in each of us who knew and loved him. His spirit will live on in our memories forever.