The world became a lot less funny this week.
My cousin John lost his hard-fought battle against cancer and died in a Hospice facility in Charleston, WV.
He was one of the most hilarious people I knew and could turn a simple story into one that would make you do one of those laughs where you accidentally honk like a goose or snort like an old mule.
We always joked he was a ghostwriter for Larry the Cable Guy.
Most of them I wouldn’t tell in a church….like the Old-Naked-Guy story or the Stole-A-Beer-And-Buried-It-To-Drink-Later one or the Before-He-Married-Robin-Diarrhea story. That one was my favorite. It didn’t end well and the joke would usually be on John, but he’d tell it anyway, without much prompting.
He’d pull you in with his good ol’ boy drawl, those piercing blue eyes, and the lip he could curl like Elvis. Before you knew it, you’d be begging him to stop – just so you could catch your breath, or wipe the tears from your eyes, or run real fast to the bathroom (for those cousins who have a weak bladder, which thankfully doesn’t include me, but they will remain nameless, but their initials are Trisha.)
He was a gentle soul, a good dad, and a loving husband. He coached his kids’ team, did maintenance on his mom’s house, and would lend a hand when needed to friend and family alike. I don’t think I was ever mad at him, not even once. Not even the time when he mooned us or the time he locked us in the cubby closet.
John was the one who took me to a mountaintop top party one rainy night and we hung out in the back of an abandoned tractor-trailer, listening to the strains of a country song and the rhythm of a clogger dancing up on the roof. A soft rain was falling and we dangled our legs off the back end of the trailer and talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up.
And here we are, all grown up…and he left us too soon.
But tomorrow, after the funeral, when we are all standing around in our pretty black outfits sipping punch, I’ll be thinking of the times he made me laugh until I cried. And I’ll smile and cry at the same time, in honor of John.