I recently learned two of my father's first cousins died. We weren't "close." However, we shared an interest in family history and I liked them. I hate "losing people."
They were both generous when asked genealogical questions. I received family stories and photos from each via email and snail mail. They solved a number of genealogical mysteries for me, giving me the low down on family rogues and reasons to be proud of some others. I liked knowing they were still alive.
Ray was a double first cousin to my father. Ray's father was my paternal grandfather's brother. Ray's mother was my paternal grandmother's sister (i.e., 2 sisters married 2 brothers). He was a gentleman, kind and friendly. If curiosity and enthusiasm can be family traits, then I recognized those shared qualities in him.
I knew Gary better. His father was another of my paternal grandfather's brothers. Gary was a polyglot who went to South Korea in 1964 to teach English and to study Asian languages. He never married, but he fell in love with South Korea. He stayed there for the rest of his life as a hired word-slinger, translating and editing. He had a passion for Esperanto, always hoping it could become a common language. Eventually he gave up his U.S. citizenship to become a citizen of South Korea. He said he had no axe to grind, being a citizen was just easier.
I wish we had corresponded more. There's so much more I want to know, and they were the only ones alive to tell me. I should have thanked them more profusely, and I would like to have had the opportunity to say goodbye. Now that race is run.
Death is so freakin' permanent.