My father's side of the family has been very blessed. With fourteen children, spouses, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, we have had very few deaths and no lives that were cut short by some tragic accident. I can easily list those in the family, including in-laws, who have passed away:
grandfather - heart attack
grandmother - natural causes (she died two weeks short of her 94th birthday)
a cousin - some genetic disease
an aunt, four uncles (two by marriage) and a cousin (at the young age of 40) - cancer
In a family of way more than 100 people, the loss of only nine people is pretty amazing, especially when all but two of them were over 50. However, today I have to add one more to that list. My cousin, who was somewhere around 50-60, lost a long and hard-fought battle with cancer. Although I only saw him once every three years at the reunion, he was a strong presence.
He has always been very supportive of the family and was probably the best family president we ever had. It has been two years since I saw him, but when my parents visited his family in February, they saw first-hand the toll the illness had taken.
He's always had a good sense of humor. I remember one email update about the cancer. He compared it to a weapon of mass distruction. The doctor knew it was there somewhere but they couldn't find it.
He has fought so hard these past couple of years, and even held out the hope that he would be able to attend this year's family reunion and take his young grandson fishing. However, he was in too much pain to make the trip. His presence was definitely missed.
I know my family has been very blessed. There is not an estranged member of the family, except the son of one of the uncle's who passed away many years ago (I don't think I've every seen this cousin, so I don't really count him.) Unfortunately, with my cousin's death, my sweet aunt and uncle have now outlived two children. My cousin who had the genetic disease was also their daughter. She has been gone for many years now but never forgotten.
Family gatherings will not be the same without Larry, and while we selfishly wish he were here with us, I know he is at peace now and pain free.