Image via WikipediaYesterday I lost a lifelong friend. My cousin Frank. Well, we were almost related. He was my cousin's cousin and in an Italian family that means we were cousin's too. So, as we grew up together we always referred to each other as cousins. When he was around seven his mom and dad decided to move out to California. Every summer he came home and stayed with his grandparents. We would spend time together when he was home and the rest of the year we would write about the things going on in our lives. Life got busy and while raising our families we lost touch. But a few years ago we reconnected. He brought his kids out to meet everyone and they spent a few weeks visiting. They stayed with us for a few days and it was just like old times. He was the same old Frank. Funny, loving and I was so happy to be able to spend time with him again.
Frank was the most kind and tolerant person I have ever know and probably will ever know. He was accepting of everyone and there was not one person in this world that he wouldn't help. That was his legacy.
Life isn't easy for most of us but he was gay and grew up in the seventies. He faced quite a few challenges along the way. But I never saw him let the negativity of the times control him. I remember a few instances when I was furious with some of the people around us, he just shrugged his shoulders and let it be. I know he was hurt but he didn't show it. He remained loving and kind and moved above the anger. He taught me about acceptance and tolerance. I will miss his laugh, his smile and his love.
Sometimes it seems that death won't leave us alone. It comes calling in the loss of another person we care about. It is a very real part of life. We may ask---why him, why now, or even why not me? Is it a part of a bigger plan? None of us know the answer. Believing we will all meet again someday is what helps me keep going. For now, for whatever reason, it is my time to live. And I am going to live the rest of my life trying to be more like Frank. To honor his legacy by being more forgiving, more tolerant and kind. For it's true "everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle".
Think about the legacy of those you have lost. What did they leave behind that you can learn from and use in you life? What made them special? What do you want your legacy to be?
Peace to all,
R.I.P Frank Otello