My cousin died today. I wasn’t home when she slipped away and didn’t know until this evening.
It’s been 10 months of non-stop goodbyes. Now another. In good health and always fit, she had a stroke. “A big one,” the doctors said. Big ones often don’t turn out well. This one didn’t.
She lived in the land of my grandparents and great-grandparents, the high mountains of southwestern Virginia in the shadow of Mt. Rogers. Those who went before her, including her parents and grandparents, are all buried there, and she will be, too.
The memories rush into my head … her as a teenager when I was a little kid … the cousins, my parents, and my siblings/spouses climbing the surrounding mountains …
… chasing cows in from the field for milking … wading in the creek … picking cherries from trees along the hilltop … riding the old plow horse … visiting a nearby trout farm …
… sleeping on homemade feather ticks … Aunt Okie’s homemade buttermilk biscuits baked in a woodfired cookstove … jumping out of the car to open the gate to the farm … all the things I loved when visiting those mountains.
Tonight is for remembering and savoring those sweet memories. Too many goodbyes….