I lost a cousin today back in South Dakota. He was older by 10 years, but that’s still way too entirely young to check out.
Rick had been ill for some time and perhaps, the borrowed time he got to enjoy made his departure a little easier on his mom and sister. I hope so, but through my experience there’s no way for any of us to imagine what they’re going through with any accuracy. People like to say that: “I can only imagine how you feel.” Well, yeah, you can try, but you’ll probably be way off.
Rick was a cousin. The son of my mom’s sister. I knew of his existence from an early age. I still have several of those black and white photos that made their way through the mail so I could recognize him on the street if I would ever see him, but I would have to say I was limited to only seeing him less than a dozen times in my life. Yet, he was family. There were a couple of times I got to see him as a kid during our family vacations to South Dakota. I know I chatted with him on the phone a couple of times over the years, so I can still hear his voice. But one of the more memorable times I had with him lives on, courtesy of our home movies. Fast-forward to the 1970s section and you’ll see Rick and I playing basketball together in our driveway, Rick wearing his navy uniform. He had come up from San Diego for a weekend visit and I just remember him being so nice and down home South Dakota friendly.
Don’t know if I saw him after that time and if I did, it just didn’t stick in my brain. He’s gone now, but ask me about Rick Hoff any time for the rest of my life and the picture of us playing basketball together is the picture that comes to mind. I’ll tell you he was a great guy and my cousin. Wish I could have spent some more time with him.
Which makes me think of my other cousins out there that have scattered. Like my cousin Clay and his wife Dawn, who still live on the farm in South Dakota that his parents down. Cousin Rhonda, Rick’s sister, in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I’ve got others in Minnesota, West Virginia and God knows where else where, that I haven’t seen in decades. To all you guys: I miss you and enjoying being connected by the family tree.
Cousins–one of the coolest family connections you can have. It’s a shame it doesn’t come with more time together built in.