Five Stanger siblings: Andrew, Marnie, Jim, Ishbel, and Morag – a special family.
This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. I always try to be thankful, but there are times when it can be hard. This is one of these times. We got word last night that one of my cousins in Orkney had lost his long, hard battle with illness and passed away last evening. Without wanting to be harsh on all my other cousins, whom I also care for deeply, Jim was one of my favourite cousins, for a variety of reasons. We worked together at the Post Office for almost 11 years before I moved to Canada and I have many happy memories of these years. He taught me a lot about life, and he showed me what it meant to have care and compassion for others.
Because of this, I can give thanks this weekend for a life well-lived, even though it was cut short and ended too soon. Jim loved life and he loved his family. The last few years have been hard on him and those close to him, but by all accounts he faced his final battle with dignity and little complaint. His main thoughts were for those closest to him and their well-being. He had a large extended family, but please especially keep his wife Lorraine, daughter Kayleigh, and two young grandsons, Jack and Harry, in your thoughts and prayers. The last time I saw him was under sad circumstances three years ago, when I was back in Orkney for our grandmother’s funeral. At that time, even under the circumstances, it was good for me to be together with the rest of the family there and to catch up with them all.
Being so far away, it can be hard keeping up with people back home. Added to that is the fact that I’m not the best of communicators. When someone is taken from us suddenly, there’s always a time of regret at things left undone or unsaid. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk to him again face to face, I may have told Jim how much he meant to me and how I appreciated the things he taught me in life, or exactly how special he was to me in life. Then again, perhaps I wouldn’t have, because I think he may have already realised, as we had developed a kind of understanding over the years of working together. That’s one of the reasons I already mentioned that he was one of my favourite cousins. Even having said that, I still regret not telling him how much he meant to me.
It’s hard to exactly put into words how I feel just now. I’m sure that’s how most of Jim’s family and friends feel just now as well. I am left with lots of good memories, and perhaps the time will come in the future when I can share some of them. So, this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the life of a special cousin and, although his life was cut short, I also give thanks for the fact that he is now free from all the pain and suffering of the past few years. Rest in peace, Jim, and I know we will meet again on the other side.
(Special thanks to Ishbel for letting me use the picture in this post)