I found out this morning that my cousin/uncle Marvin passed away. it is a devastating loss. I wrote cousin/uncle because he is actually my dad's cousin but we treated him like an uncle. My father, an only child, had no brothers and sisters of his own for us to claim. We instead glommed onto Marv and his wife Sue and took them as our own, my sister and me. Their kids were around our age and all of our cousins in the long family chain, linked us all together. I couldn't tell you the exact relationship of any of my family. Who are second cousins, who is once or twice removed. Nobody has ever felt removed in our family so we just call everybody cousin or aunt or uncle. We are a mixed up group, who has never cared about formal titles. My family has always been more concerned with the relationships rather than the exact relations.
No one personified how accepting our family is, more than our cousin Marvin. His laughter and love of a good joke has been infamous in our family. His love and acceptance and good will came to every person. He never saw me without extending his arms for me to fall into a full a bear hug. His hug was gentle and strong enough where I always knew if I got too scared or weak, I had somewhere to go.
This is the week of Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is when my family, all the family, had gotten together for most of my life. It was the day when I would see Marv and we would catch up with the rest of the year. Marv would seek me out the years I went in hiding because I was going through a divorce or I was exhausted as a single mother or I was just plain overwhelmed. He would find me and sit with me and just chat about whatever. He helped me feel normal when I felt broken. He made me laugh when I thought I might never do that again. He was my Thanksgiving calm in a life that had become pretty stormy at times. Marv always reminded me that were always things to be grateful for. His were another set of invisible fingerprints, who helped mold into the kind of person who would at least try and look for the good in things in life.
My first instinct was to be upset at the timing of the loss of Marv. But in truth, it probably is his way of reminding us once again that there are things to be grateful for, even in the darkest times.
So for Marv, a few days early, let me say I am so very grateful for my family and all the memories I have shared with them. I am forever grateful that my extended family is my immediate family. I am grateful for all the older generations who watched so carefully over us "kids" and took the time to spend teaching, guiding and of course, laughing. I am grateful for a very special day in the summer at the most beautiful place, where I got to see Marv, Sue, Andi, Scott and Denny and their families. I knew then it was an incredible day. I knew then I was blessed beyond words to have such a loving, warm family to spend time with. I knew then that there would always be things to be grateful for.