I received terrible news this week that my cousin Paul Francis died suddenly. He was 61 years young and had a beautiful wife and two grown children. I was not aware of any medical problems, so that is why his sudden passing is a shock to us all.
As like most families, we did not see each other much over the years. Everyone is busy with their own lives and time passes quickly. I would send the annual Christmas card…but took for granted that there would always be another occasion where we would see each other again.
As I thought about my cousin, I remembered the good times we had when we were kids. My father and his mother, were brother and sister. Our parents came from a large family of seven brothers and sisters (four brothers and three sisters). Each brother and sister had a number of children so our extended family numbered many. As his parents had a huge yard and were generous in opening their home, we gathered there often when we were kids. As a result, our generation of cousins became life long friends despite the distances between us. Over the years we have gotten together for weddings, births, and yes, deaths that happened over the years. We always had good times when we were together and kept up to date through the years through our various family members and Facebook.
Last year, my cousin Patty and I put together a family reunion. Cousins came from across the country to reunite and shared how our lives were going and exchange memories. We had a great turn out with all of our cousins and many of their children in attendance. As I think back, I am so happy my cousin and I took the time to plan the event as now we are a smaller group.
The sad event of my cousin’s passing made me think about a verse I had always loved from the Bible: Matthew 25:1-13, “we do not know the day or the hour, but we shall know the season. Therefore, be sober and do not slumber”. To me, this passage tells me to stay alert, stay in touch, don’t put off what is important as there may not be a tomorrow.
Having recently faced my own mortality, I have tried to keep this parable in mind. But as time passes by, I feel like I am slipping back into old routines where I put things off, don’t tell people I loved them and take for granted the short time we have on this earth. The passing of my cousin is the stark reminder I needed to get back on track.
As our family mourns the loss of my cousin Paul Francis as he is put to rest, please remember his family with a positive thought or simple prayer.
In closing, as we do not know the day or the hour, stay alert, don’t take things for granted or put off those things that are important as life is short.