Good-bye to Cousin Warren

My folks were supposed to spend Easter with cousin Warren and his family, but a week prior he emailed and cancelled, saying he was having side effects from chemotherapy. He closed the email with a cheery, “There’s always next year.”

Warren died on Easter Sunday 2016.

Warren was the younger son of my great-uncle Ed and great-aunt Marge, as well as a husband, brother, father of four, grandfather of four, and friend to many.

Warren was my dad’s first cousin. When they were kids, they saw quite a bit of each other as the families spent time together. The Christmas the boys all got tin trumpets is a favorite family story. As the families aged, they saw less of each other as everyone went their own way.

When I was a very small child and my great-grandmother still lived, the 3 branches of the Warren family gathered together for holidays. When great-grandmother moved to a nursing home, those gatherings ceased and we rarely saw each other as time and distance took its toll.

In the past few years, the Warren family cousins have reconnected. The deaths of Aunt Clare, Uncle Ed, and Aunt Marge (the last of that generation) within a few years of each other seemed to bring the need for family and the awareness of our own mortality to the forefront.

I have seen Warren several times over the past few years, and what I remember most was his smile. Like his parents, he had an unfailing positivity, a cheerful attitude, and a generous spirit. His warmth filled the room, and he had a knack for giving you his undivided attention even in a crowd.

Warren is my father’s first cousin, making me his first cousin once removed. Nevertheless, we connected over genealogy. Warren’s mother Marge was the last surviving Warren Sister, and she had inherited all the family errata. Warren painstakingly went through the boxes of paper and pictures and came out with gems—photos of ancestors back to the Civil War, ancestors we never had photos of before. He also had batches of photos of my great-grandparents, as well as some papers such as letters and deeds. He handed all of them to me, since I am the family historian.

It is always wrenching to lose a family member, but especially so when you feel like you are just getting to know them. I will always remember his laugh, his intelligence, and the genuine joy in his face when we would meet.

Godspeed, Warren. We will miss you.

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