Saying Goodbye to Charley

This week we said goodbye to my cousin-in-law Charley. He was part of our family for 30 years, yet it is distressing how little I knew about him. But here is what I did know:

I know he was an impeccable judge of character—after all, he married my cousin.

I know he was a little bit crazy—after all, he married my cousin even AFTER meeting the rest of the clan.

I know he was highly athletic, before Huntington’s Disease stole his coordination.

I know he was courageous, braving his disease with dignity and grace.

I know he was determined, fighting the cancer that eventually took him with everything he had.

I know he enjoyed life to the fullest. His father’s early death had made him value life.

I know he was, in my experience, a quiet man—but you know it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

I know he loved my cousin very, very much—and she him.

I know that he was deeply loved, respected, and admired by his family and friends, and will be as deeply missed by them.

And I know that someone who was so well-loved in turn loved others profoundly, generously, and joyfully.

Charley will be missed by the many, many people who loved him. His life can teach us so many things: courage in the face of unthinkable adversity; living life joyfully and fully every day; and loving those in your life profoundly, among others. But the lesson I have learned from him is to not take people for granted.

To know someone for 30 years and know virtually nothing about them is a much greater loss than knowing them well and losing them to death.

Thank you, Charley. You will be missed.


  1. Nancy Keim Comley says

    Thank you for sharing Charley with us!

  2. It seems to me like you knew the really important things about Charley, so very sorry for your loss, and your cousin’s as well

  3. So sorry for your loss.


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