Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye to my Amazing Cousin

She was my idol when I was a young child, a source of ‘bragging rights’ among my friends.  She was a ballet dancer with Theatre under the Stars, danced with Robert Goulet, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, danced for five years with the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason Show.  Her name was Anita, and she was my eldest cousin, the daughter of my maternal aunt.  

After the dancing came the storybook romance.  As she told me just recently, they saw each other across a crowded room and instantly they knew they were meant to be together.  He knew she was the woman he was going to marry.  She felt they had always known each other.  They married and lived happily ever after.  They had what sociologists call a ‘total relationship’ – deeply in love throughout their lives, working together,  playing together, each other’s very best friend and closest confidante.

Nineteen years ago, when Anita was sixty, Dick passed away.  Anita continued to feel him near, as she moved from Nevada to Colorado, rode horses, hiked long steep mountain trails, hauled her fifth wheel (and later her motorhome) across the country on Elder College treks.  She was adventuresome and full of courage and positive energy.  Just being around her brought smiles to our faces and a wonderful feeling of warmth and joy.

A few years ago, she moved to Washington State, to be closer to the small kin group she had left – her two siblings plus my family, all living in southern BC.  She visited mom often, called us all regularly, joined us for family gatherings, came to visit me on the island. She was fit and healthy and looked twenty years younger than her birth certificate showed.

And then, in October, she was diagnosed with end-stage pancreatic cancer. Boom.

In typical Anita fashion, she took it in stride.  She believed our time here on earth is just a very small part of a much larger journey, and the best is yet to come.  She mentioned often, these past few weeks,  how excited she was,  how much she looked forward to the next stage of the journey, to seeing her beloved husband again.  She put her affairs in order,  was able to stay in her own home with the help of hospice, spoke with us all regularly, told us each that she loved us. 

This morning, with her sister by her side, she left on her next great adventure.   And we shall all miss her so very much.  

Love you, Anita.  Your joyful spirit truly inspires.

(Note: There is a little footnote to this entry......... And tomorrow I shall introduce her to you. )


georgia little pea said...

What a remarkable woman and life. No wonder you bragged about her! Happy in work, love, family and adventurous and independent to the end. We should all be so lucky.

My sympathies to you and your family, Jean. I have no doubt she'll be sorely missed X

Deborah Strong said...

If only we could all live our lives so completely and with such grace. An inspiring, well-lived life indeed.

Hugs to you,
Deb S.

Marie said...

What a special woman your cousin, Anita is and what a special outlook on life and the journey hereafter, I greatly admire that.
Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this particularly difficult time, as it is a huge loss for you all.

Pauley James said...

Anita sounds like an amazing woman who lead a wonderful life. A great reminder to live fully & completely. Sending hugs ♥

Brigid said...

Thinking of you - and her. An inspiration indeed...

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Jean. Your cousin truly sounds like an amazing woman, who lead a wonderful life.


Major's mom said...

What an inspirational story. We have so much to learn about life and death. Thank you for sharing with us.

Louwalk said...

Hi Jean, it's been a while since I have posted a comment on your blog. I am very sorry for your loss of your cousin.

Lou, Abbotsford