I just received notification that a cousin died on Friday night. Kenny was older than me, and I don't have many childhood memories of him. He may have been away at college, or in the service when I was visiting as a young child. But when I was a young adult, I have a vivid memory of him and his wife taking me and a couple of my girlfriends out to party.
He came to pick us up at my grandmother's house in a pink Cadillac. And, no, he didn't work for Mary Kay.
Kenny was considered by some to be the black sheep of the family. He tended to be wild. He liked his drinks and his cigarettes. And he didn't always take care of responsibilities.
But, Kenny was always fun and funny. He was always generous to a fault. And you could never spend time around him without feeling good. For years after that visit, my two girlfriends would talk about the good time they had with my cousin.
Two years ago, we had a family reunion and I saw Kenny for the first time in many years. I could barely see past the wrinkles and other ravages of excess and see the young man who had introduced me to moonshine so many years ago, but when he spoke, I knew it was the same man.
We talked and laughed, and then he started to sing. My father was sitting near him and he joined in. Then other folks were drawn into the music, and pretty soon we had a good sing-along going. That was a high point of the reunion for my father - and for all of us who treasure the sing-alongs that were always a part of our family gatherings.
My father, who was 89 at the time, has been having memory issues, so he didn't recognize everyone at the reunion. After we left the party, he said he didn't know who that young man was, "but boy, he sure could sing good."
I didn't have the heart to tell Daddy that was his nephew, but I did tell Kenny that he made one old man very happy that day.
Rest in peace, Kenny
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