I’ve been sad this last week or so, despite just coming back from a lovely break in Staffordshire with a group of lovely friends. We rented a cottage, four of us next door to Sue, so I had a lovely few days with four fab ladies, catching up, eating, drinking, walking. It was just what I needed. But on my first day there, I read a post on Facebook from my cousin’s daughter. Turned out her mother had just died. Her mother was of course my cousin and I was absolutely shocked to read that she had gone. OK, we hadn’t been in touch for a while, but that’s not unusual and I had assumed she was just living her life as normal.
Some explanation is due here. Marion was a cousin on my Dad’s side and I used to see her and her two brothers quite a lot when we were children. We would visit my Grandma and the cousins would be around. Me being the shy child I was, it took me a few days to start joining in, and the scenario was that I just started to get to know them each time as I was leaving to come home. But still, I had happy memories of that time, not least because my Grandma was there and my Dad at his best. We all lost touch after my Dad died until 35 years later I found my cousin Alan on Facebook. He was the youngest of the siblings and the one I knew the best as a child. After chatting a bit on Facebook, we met up several times, me going to his house and them coming up here. We even met at the Olympic opening ceremony where his daughter was a flag bearer. He introduced me once again to his sister Marion, who also welcomed me into her home and family as if no time had gone by at all.
Unfortunately, alan and his brother Kenneth had inherited a genetic condition for which both their parents had the gene. It was a lung condition they both had, but Marion didn’t. Very sadly, Alan died before he reached 60, after a few good years following a heart/lung transplant. His brother dies not long after.
Marion still kept in touch and stayed a few times at her house and met her lovely family. We also met quite often in London when I was down on business, going for long walks and talking about our families and life in general. She was a lovely woman, reminded me so much of my grandma, both in looks and personality. The last time I was there was following my kidney cancer and we chatted about life and death. Jokingly, we agreed that we had been lucky so far and that the key to a long life was to make it through our 60s, unlike both sets of parents and her siblings. Grandma made it to her 80s, so I just assumed that Marion, being so much like her, would survive too. To then read that post telling me she had lost her life to cancer (a short fight it said) was devastating.
So I just want to pay tribute to my cousin. Marion was a quiet lady, deeply religious who adored her family. She had been a teacher and head teacher who inspired hundreds of kids and was hugely popular at her old schools. she was a kind soul, who welcomed me with open arms into her family life and for that I will always be grateful. She was the last link to my childhood, to my grandma and my Dad. that’s it. all three of those lovely siblings are gone now, so unfairly. They all had so much more to give the world and they all had families that loved them so much.
I will miss Marion very much indeed, as I miss her brother Alan. I never got to meet Kenneth again as he lived in the US, but did talk via Facebook. I have some very good memories of Marion and Alan, and how kind they were to me in the last 10 years. To discover some family after all those years when I thought I had none, was wonderful, but the time was too short.
I’m still here, for how long I don’t know. But of course it has made me question my own mortality. All I can do is carry on, make each day as good as it can possibly be, try to be kind to others, to live as well as I can and to enjoy the small things as well as the big ones. Whatever time I have left is going to be lived in a good way.
God bless my cousin Marion.