As the years go by, I find myself cataloging more and more people I knew who are passing on to the next plane of existence. This year, I’ve decided to start keeping track. Here they are, in reverse order:
December 6, 2008, age 82:Antoine G. Petit, second-cousin to my father, part of his youth was spent with my father back in the 1950s – 1960s. They kept in touch over the years, with Uncle Tatane (as he was affectionately called) visiting us once, all the way from Stockholm, Sweden, to Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. I really truly wish I had had a chance to get a little closer to him. He was a poet, a writer, an independent thinker, a man of principles and integrity, a fighter, and just plain sweet. If you look carefully, you might be able to find two of his books, Castro, Debray contre le marxisme-léninisme. I am proud to be related to him.
He left behind a daughter who, from all accounts, inherited her father’s and her grandfather’s intellectual mind.
À Sandra, toutes mes condoléances, cousine. J’aurais aimé l’avoir mieux connu.
May 16, 2008:Uncle Tatane’s wife died of a heart attack in Sweden, where they both lived and raised their daughter. I am sure she was waiting for him with open arms, and I trust they are continuing on together in the next life.
June 24, 2008, age 72:Peggie Webb King.
On June 14th, completely at random, my husband decided to call his mother, just to say hi. During the course of that conversation, she informed him she was scheduled for surgery the following Tuesday. I’m convinced that she hadn’t meant to let anyone know (except her youngest daughter, who was physically close to her), and that she was probably certain she wasn’t going to survive.
My husband and youngest daughter made the trip to Mississippi to be there for her. They arrived June 22nd. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law never left ICU. By June 23rd, her liver was failing, she was in a coma, and the family had to decide whether or not to continue extraordinary measures for her.
On June 24th, all having agreed this is not what Peggie would have wanted, they asked the doctor to pull the plug.
Peggie left behind a husband, an ex-husband with whom she had 4 children, who in turn gave her 7 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. I am comforted by the knowledge, gathered from conversations with my sister-in-law, that she was ready to go, and left with a glad heart.
December 11, 2006:My cousin’s husband, Rénald Nicolas, is kidnapped in Haiti while on his way to a business meeting. His wife and 4 children were on a “family tour” of both the United States and Canada while he took care of a few business matters, and was in the country alone. His intent was then to join them for the holidays.
On the morning of December 11, 2006, four heavily armed men literally forced him, at gunpoint, into their car. One took Rénald’s car (presumably so as not to attract attention) and sequestered him in regions unknown. We do not know how long they kept him, only that a large ransom was asked for his return, and paid.
Rénald never came back, nor has his body ever been found.
Rumors in Haiti suggest he was tortured for several days before finally being allowed to fly free from his mortal shell. This year marked the 2nd anniversary of his disapperance.
He was 52.
September 2004:Deby Kendall.
I met Deby online, in an interest group. We struck up an odd kind of friendship, that lasted nearly 4 years. In 2002, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. For two years she fought bravely, refusing to give in, though it seemed obvious to me, even at a distance, that she was often tired of both the treatments and the fight itself. But she was nothing if not stubborn, and I know she didn’t just give up.
My biggest regret is that I took it for granted she would make it. I didn’t find out she had passed on until nearly a year later.
She is still missed. Deby was barely 43.
In 2003, just past his 71st birthday, my father, Michel H. Petit, died of complications suffered as a result of a diabetic coma. More specifically, renal failure and general organ failure. I will always regret the fact that I simply couldn’t pull together the funds to be there for him, or for my mother, who endured alone the long path by his side as he, somewhat reluctantly, left this earth.
I still can’t believe he’s gone or that he was quite so young. 71 isn’t so old these days, is it? He would have delighted in the intelligence of his youngest granddaughter.
Such is life.