“On the day they lay me down/Want everyone to gather ‘round/And say he was a father, brother, neighbour and a friend/He was a good man!” — Emerson Drive
Raymond was swept away too soon, and he certainly was A Good Man when he was here.
Correction (thanks Maribeth): Raymond was the *second* one of the grand-kid generation to go. My cousin Lorna passed away 7 years ago. I don’t think I ever knew that, and maybe I did, but I don’t remember, and it’s sad that I didn’t, and I’m even more saddened that I wasn’t closer to my Uncle Delmer and Aunt Joyce’s kids. Distance can separate family as much as time can bring them together. Randy, Lorna’s brother, hosted Raymond’s last party at his house on Saturday. I remember them up at the farm all the time when I was little. Life is strange sometimes… How do we all float apart from one another? There is something to be said for a common family homestead. When Grandma moved away, and the farm was sold, it didn’t give us a reason to all congregate any more…
Up until now, on my mom’s side of the family, we’ve lost many family members… A handful of my first cousins died in infancy or childhood but this was a tough one for many of us of the Charlie and Mary grand-kid generation. I’m the second youngest, and even though 2o years or so separated Raymond and I, and I’m closer in age with his children, it still wasn’t easy. He was more like an uncle to me than a cousin. That crazy uncle who you loved to have around to hear the stories from, that always had a joke to tell, and that really wanted to know what was going on in your life (mostly so he could tease you). That kind of uncle.
He didn’t want anyone to be sad on Saturday. He set it up so we could have a party. He set it up so it would be short and sweet so we could get to the good stuff. Just like he wanted.
We had country and rock music in the funeral parlour; old pictures on the screen; and a bottle of alcohol passed around at the cemetery for those that wanted to share one last round with Raymond. It was him. It was great.
Dammit. Adam, his oldest son, and I were saying that it’s only going to get harder as the years go by. That’s a given.
I have stuff to do. I better get to it. Nothing like mortality to refocus what’s important and meaningful in your life.
Thank you, Raymond. Thank you.