Last week the world became a little less colorful as my first cousin, Olivia, slipped away and entered a permanent place in heaven.
She was not supposed to die at her age, not quite 64, oh so young by today’s standards. She was unwell, and dealt with the side effects from chemotherapy for many years as she battled cancer. She had neuropathy, heart issues, depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, in addition to just pain and discomfort. She suffered from conditions more common in later years.
I reconnected with Olivia about ten years ago through the effort of her step sister, my cousin, Fran Lisa. She very thoughtfully initiated a reunion, which brought Olivia and me back together, women now well past middle aged. I had had a hiatus of 20 years where we hadn’t communicated. No reason, just the usual drifting of family, particularly when one is an East coaster and one a West coaster. I owe a debt of gratitude to Fran Lisa for this special rekindling.
Olivia had lived quite a life as a true love child, leaving home at 18 never to return again. She followed her heart and her passion for music and art. She wrote poems and designed greeting cards expressing a oneness with nature. She even had praying mantises as pets, in addition to dogs and cats.
She was a real groupie, following Bob Dylan around the country, writing to him, composing poetry, and painting him. She once waited for him in front of the men’s room so she could personally hand him a piece of her art. He told her to stick to her poetry!
Olivia was also a weed distributor way before Mary Louise Parker ever smelled pot! Based out of tony Marin County, she had a client list of writers and Hollywood folk (maybe B or C list, but nevertheless!!) who counted on her for her quality product. She knew everything there was to know about cannibis before I ever smoked a joint.
I was a goody two shoes who always did what was expected. As little girls, she brought the mischief out in me. I looked upon Olivia as a sister since we were very close in age. We shared secrets. She complained to me about her family, asked for advice, bounced ideas off me. It was a special bond.
Olivia wore a hibiscus in her hair, bright stenciled designs like butterflies on her red polished nails, and had Sharon Osbourne hair. You couldn’t miss her if you tried! She leaves two grown daughters, a grand child, and a husband who loved her for the unique character she was. They were partners for 20 years before marrying only seven years ago. Better late than never.
So, Olivia, as you are laid to rest today, Sunday, the day that would have been your birthday, know that you left your mark. You touched people’s lives, made many people smile. You, who lost your mother at the tender age of two, will be reunited with her, alongside your dad, and grand parents.
May Bob Dylan be singing Blowin’ In The Wind to you as a serenade and flowers come to life everywhere.
Rest in peace.
Love forever from Cousin Joy.
-My cousin. is the first close family member I have lost and it hit me as a little too close to home. I am fortunate to have not lost any dear friends to disease or accidents. I know that this will be the first of many more to come as I age and those around me as well.
-We need to reach out to family and friends that we may have disconnected from.