I guess it’s okay to write about the death of my cousin Rick here now since his sister posted it on Facebook. She had previously messaged my brother and me about it.
Apparently Rick was living alone and didn’t show up for work this week. After a couple days they went looking for him and found him sitting dead in his apartment of an apparent heart attack. Rick is slightly younger than me. His father also died pretty young at the age of 57. Rick made it to 61 or so I guess. Both deaths were unexpected. Uncle Richard died in his sleep one night. I can only hope Rick’s death was okay if not peaceful for him.
I try to reach out to my extended family. I was friends with Rick on Facebook but that was about the extent of our connection at this time in our lives. His sister indicated he preferred to be a bit distant to family.
I remember him from my youth however. My family used to make regular pilgrimages to the street in South Charleston, West Virginia where my Mom’s entire family of origin lived. Central Avenue was a steep hill. Uncle Richard’s house was the highest on the hill. A few doors down from him was the home of his Mom and Dad (my Pop Jim and Grandmother Midkiff or Maummy as they all called her). Across from his Mom and Dad lived his sister Aunt Ella and her fam.
There was a view of the industrial valley from Uncle Richard’s house. I remember the strong stink of pollution that none of my cousins could smell since they were used to it. We sometimes drove through a little industrial town named Nitro (Nitroglycerin I always thought) to get there.
I remember specifically one summer that Rick and I spent hours together on his front porch with at least one guitar singing Peter, Paul and Mary songs. It was great fun. I can still hear him singing along on “Flora, (the Lily of the West).”