At my Dad's grave side service, I remember vividly glancing over my right shoulder and seeing my oldest cousin Paul, red hair blowing in the wind on that cold December day. He was standing a bit back from the crowd, ever present cigarette in hand, sobbing.
I hadn't thought too much about that moment until my cousin Laura, Paul's sister, posted this picture several weeks ago.
The two Pauls sometime in the late 70's I suppose.
It was taken at a time when I was self absorbed in my own young adulthood .When family gatherings brought about a roll of the eyes as I bolted out the door in the opposite direction.
I particularly avoided all gatherings where my many relatives with the name Paul, real or hijacked, were in attendance. My dad would inevitably get called 'Jake'. I hated it. Funny that such a simple little thing of convenience pestered me so much.
Laura recently called my attention to a few more photos.
My Dad Paul, My Grandfather Minard, My Cousin Paul
Then it hit me. My dad and Paul were much more than uncle and nephew that shared a name. They were buds from way back. Not at all unlike my own sons loving their nephews so very much. My Cousin stood back from the crowd and grieved his own way because he loved his Jake.
My brother Paul went into my dying father's hospital room 19 years ago today and gave him permission to let go. It was the kindest thing a son ever did for a dad.
I still miss him.
And now more than ever I miss Paul, the red headed cousin too.