DSCN0631He was 18 years my senior.  Affectionately known as “Ale”.  My cousin Larry Ekstrom.  He had a shock of red hair.  The only redhead in the entire kingdom that is my family.  I had not seen him since 1970 and then I received the email invite to his memorial service to be held in August of 2015.  Of course, I went.

He had characterized himself as having emerged from one of the more colorful branches of my family tree.  His home for fifty years was a boat docked in the Sausalito Marina, slightly north of San Francisco.  He was well-versed in all things nautical.  He entertained while playing the concertina.  Two adult children were in attendance at the service, Aimee and Aubrey.  My first opportunity to meet them was presented to me while I enjoyed stories of Ale’s unique lifestyle in the marina.

We sang songs, took in a meal and viewed the photos provided.  Evidence to Ale’s unusual way of life as I came to recognize it.  Cousins.

Christmastime.  A mixed bag.  There seem to be very few Decembers without mar.  I usually spend a good portion of my December nursing a cold and cough.  Christmas 2016 was no different.  I was down with a miserable cold for most of the month.  But, that’s not the worst of it.  From my dear cousin Dennis, brother to Larry, the subject of my story, came distressing news.  Dennis has been given a diagnosis, and the bell tolls.  I am saddened by this news, there is a bright spot, however.  Dennis is a highly regarded and talented artist.  He explained that as long as he can physically enjoy producing works, he will be okay.  I pray he will.

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